Tag Archives: belly

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

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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/

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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

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Shin Okinawa Izakaya

Unfortunately this restaurant has closed.

 

“My Island of Pork”

Pork, for me is not just the “other white meat”. It’s absolutely my favorite meat… be it pork cutlets, pork chops, pork ribs, pork loin, slab bacon, guanciale, pancetta, prosciutto, speck, pig ears, chicharrones,  juicy trotters, pork belly or even SPAM. There is nothing I love more than PIG. 

Dancing with my sister Janet, MyLastBite.comNot surprisingly… my porcine passion is actually a birthright. I was born on Okinawa which is known as the “island of pork” and I don’t remember eating any other meat when I was a child. Fresh fish, yes (my grandmother’s beautiful steamed salmon), but pork was the only “meat” I recall, and when I was hungry and asked my big sister for “RED” meat, I was actually requesting my beloved SPAM*. 

A few weeks ago, my husband Peter and I decided to try Shin Okinawa Izakaya, an Okinawan restaurant in Torrance, CA. I first read about it a few months ago and was hoping to try it with my sister, Janet, and her kids. With everyone’s busy schedules, it hadn’t happened yet.

With my Oba-chan, MyLastBite.comPeter and I had an early evening reservation and as we walked in the door, the smells coming from the kitchen along with the Okinawan music instantly made me feel like I was back in Koza… with my sweet, little Oba-chan (grandma).

In the ladies’ room, there were huge, red hibiscus flowers painted on the wall. I had to take a photo of it for my sister. In Okinawa we had beautiful hibiscus trees on the side of our house and our mother used to wear the flowers behind her ear. Janet and I loved to pluck out the center stem piece and suck out the sweet juices. I thought the painting in the bathroom was a good start for the evening. “Ok they get it. Hibiscus means ‘Okinawa’.”

Hibiscus in the Benjo! MyLastBite.com

After sitting down at our table, we ordered an Okinawan beer called “Orion”. It’s funny how something as simple as a bottle of beer can make you smile. Three simple words printed on the bottle, “Brewed in Okinawa” meant that maybe I was a little bit closer to my island of pork.

Dinner was wonderful. Of course our table was monopolized by pork, but the best food memory that hit me was when I bit into a purple potato. That really took me back to my Oba-chan’s kitchen. I got  a little teary and wished my sister was there with me, but then I remembered that Janet does NOT like pork. She loves Okinawan purple potatoes, seafood and poultry but she does not share my obsession with pig. I just laughed while I tucked into a bowl of delicious shredded pigs ear. I’ll bring her back next time for some tasty chicken skin or monkfish liver!

Itadakimasu! (Let’s eat!) aka…
What we ordered and LOVED:
Grilled Tebichi, MyLastBite.com  Grilled Tebichi
(Pork Feet) $8

Andansu, MyLastBite.com Andansu
(Pork Meat & Miso) $5.50

Okinawan Kimchi, MyLastBite.com  Okinawa Kimchi
(Shredded Pig’s Ear) $5

Hamachi Kama, MyLastBite.com  Hamachi Kama
(Grilled Yellowtail Collar) $12

Suku Garasu, MyLastBite.com Suku Garasu
(Baby Pickled Fish & Okinawa Tofu) $6

Tori no Kara-age, MyLastBite.com  Tori no Kara-age
(Fried Chicken With Okinawa Ponzu) $7

Takoyaki, MyLastBite.com Takoyaki
(Octopus Balls and Shaved Bonito) $5.50

Fried Mimi Ga (Shredded Pigs Ear) $6.75

So-ki Soba (Pork Ribs) $8.75

Raftei (Simmered Pork Belly) $8

Beni Imo Dango, MyLastBite.com
Beni Imo Dango (Deep-fried purple sweet potato balls rolled in Sesame) $6.75

http://www.ShinOkinawaIzakaya.com

Entrance, MyLastBite.com
1880 W. Carson Street Suite #A
Torrance, California, 90501
(310) 618-8357

Dining date: 11/23/08

About Okinawa

*My Beloved SPAM

For PORK Lovers

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Animal [1]

It’s not all about bacon at ANIMAL Restaurant. Before the first of my many, many visits, I read a review that noted there was “too much” bacon on the menu. Of course that made me want to go ASAP, but in reality the restaurant is more about being adventurous… as chefs and as an eater.

Two of my favorite dishes were actually bacon-free. The Raw Amberjack and the Foie Gras with Strawberry & Grits (pics below). But there were plenty of pork accented plates that made me think I had died and gone to bacon heaven. Especially the Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar dessert!

That very first dinner at ANIMAL (Aug 29th) was so good, that my husband Peter and I ate there again the next evening. The servers (Jeff on Friday night… Victor & Arlene on Saturday) were convivial and very helpful.

Chef Jon Shook stopped by our table a few times to chat and to recommend dishes. Chef Vinny Dotolo never left the busy kitchen but I blame that on our table… we just could not stop indulging ourselves and had to taste everything we could.

Simply put, the food at ANIMAL is fearless, delicious and full of passion. See you there soon!

Raw Amberjack, Nectarines, Orange, Mint and Serrano Chili, MyLastBite.com
Raw Amberjack, Nectarines, Orange, Mint and Serrano Chili $14

Crispy Squash Blossoms, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Squash Blossoms $14

Softshell Crab, Kimchi, Pork Belly, Chili Soy, MyLastBite.com
Softshell Crab, Kimchi, Pork Belly, Chili Soy $20

Pork Ribs, Balsamic, Heirloom Tomato, Rocket and Bread Salad, MyLastBite.com
Pork Ribs, Balsamic, Heirloom Tomato, Rocket and Bread Salad $15

Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar with Creme’ Anglaise, MyLastBite.com
Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar with Creme’ Anglaise $8

Foie Gras, Strawberry, Hasty Pudding, MyLastBite.com
Foie Gras, Strawberry, Hasty Pudding (old school grits) $20

Wine: We love the Joel Gott Zinfandel wine that we first tried at Animal. More info here

Dining Date 8/29/08

– > Animal Visit 2

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

Animal on Urbanspoon

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