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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

<< Bazaar Visit #8

Bazaar Visit #10 >>

All my Bazaar photos on Flickr

Saam at the Bazaar By José Andrés on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

The Bazaar by José Andrés [8]

Sunday night at the Bazaar with Phil from “My Life As A Foodie”, his wife Katrina, and fellow food-lovers Dean and Stephanie.

When we were seated at the “Chefs Table” in the Rojo Room, Peter and I made sure that he and I were the two diners facing AWAY from the open kitchen. We had four eager “Bazaar Virgins” with us and for them to get the most of the experience, they faced the chefs, giving them first-class seats to the “show”!

We shared many of what I now call “essential” tapas from both the Blanca and Rojo menus. These are dishes we get every visit and include: Jamón Ibérico, Chicken and Béchamel Fritters, Sea Urchin with Avocado in a Steamed Mini Bun and Philly Cheesesteak Air Bread (photo links below).

This was my eighth dinner at Bazaar. Had I tried everything on both the Rojo and Blanco menus? Well no, to be honest there were still a few vegetable dishes I’d been avoiding. It’s not that I don’t like veggies, it’s just that when presented with a choice between plump butifarra (sausage) or brussel sprouts… I’m going to always insist on the meats (or seafood or foie gras) first.

Our evening was made even more delightful when Chef Voltaggio presented a NEW, elegant salmon dish that he wanted us to try. The “Smoked” Salmon was cooked sous vide (French for “under vacuum”), served with cucumber “noodles” and set on top of a small potato blintz. This was all presented under a glass dome and served on a piece of black slate. Before leaving the kitchen, the dome was lifted slightly and Chef Voltaggio “smoked” the salmon with a culinary *smoking gun. When the servers brought the salmon to the table, puffs of smoke gently wafted from under the glass as the domes were removed. It was cool (and tasted heavenly).

General Manager, William Douillet, seemed to always “magically” appear when there was the slightest inquiry.  Thoughtful and courteous, he always makes each visit a “special” occasion. Our four friends, no longer “Bazaar Virgins”, still haven’t stopped talking about the experience.

Tapas we tried on this visit:

Ajo Blanco, MyLastBite.com
Ajo Blanco: White Gazpacho, Tomatoes, Grapes, Raisins, topped with Tomato Granita $5. I loved this savory dish (sort of like a panna cotta), especially the texture of the granita on top.

Cauliflower "Couscous", MyLastBite.com
Sautéed Cauliflower “Couscous”
: Cauliflower puree, harissa, pomegranate $8. The tiny, crunchy bits of cauliflower were terrific mixed with the pomegranate.

Brussel Sprout Leaves, MyLastBite.com
Brussel Sprout Leaves with lemon purée, apricots, grapes and lemon “air” $8. I hated brussel sprouts as a kid, so the fact that I actually liked this was a nice surprise.

Buñuelos, MyLastBite.com
Buñuelos (Codfish Fritters) with Honey Aoli $8. I liked that I could really taste the fish in these fried balls. Usually with deep-fried fish, all I taste is the “fried” part.

Quesos, MyLastBite.com
Cheese from right to left: This was my first taste of 
La Serenaa creamy, aromatic (aka really stinky which I love!) cheese from Extremadura in Western Spain. Valdeón is a rich, creamy, intensely-flavored cow and goat’s milk blue cheese, saltier than Stilton and not as intense as Cabrales. Idiazábal is the national cheese of the Basque country, is made from sheep’s milk and is usually smoked. Served with Picos (Spanish crispy bread) and Quince jam. 3 Quesos $15

"Smoked" Salmon 1, MyLastBite.com
The “Smoked” Salmon arriving at our table…

"Smoked" Salmon 3, MyLastBite.com
The
“Smoked” Salmon, cooked sous vide with Cucumber Noodles, then “smoked” with a smoking gun, served over a small Potato Blintz. The flavors and textures were OUTSTANDING… perfectly cooked salmon, with faux cucumber noodles on crispy potatoes.

Wild Mushroom Rice, MyLastBite.com
Wild Mushroom Rice with Idiazábal Cheese, $10. A creamy, savory tapas version of the rice dish Marcel surprised us with on visit #4 (sans truffles).

“Essential” Bazaar Tapas that we get on every visit:

Sea Urchins, Avocado in a Steamed Mini Bun

Jamón Ibérico (Iberian Ham)

Chicken & Béchamel Fritters

Philly Cheesesteak Air Bread 

‘Pa amb’ tomaquet (bread with tomato in Catalan)

Mentioned above:

My Life as a Foodie
(with many more Bazaar dinner details)

The Smoking Gun

More about Sous Vide cooking

Chef Michael Voltaggio

Manager William Douillet

My Bazaar Photos on Flickr

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

Dining Date: 3/29/09

<– Bazaar Visit 7

Bazaar Visit 9 –>

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Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

MyLastBite.com on L.A. Times

A great big THANK YOU to Rene Lynch at the L.A. Times for posting one of my photos today. It’s of a delicious José Andrés pork recipe that I saw on “A Moveable Feast with America’s Favorite Chefs”.

Andrés is my very favorite chef to watch on TV, and I love cooking from his “Made in Spain” cookbook, a companion book to the PBS show of the same name. If you’ve never seen “Made in Spain”, definitely check it out. His enthusiam and passion for Spanish food will make you smile AND get you in the kitchen ahora (now)!

MyLastBite.com on L.A. Times


The Pork Loin Recipe

MyLastBite on L.A. Times

“Made in Spain” book by José Andrés

“Made in Spain” TV Show

“A Moveable Feast with America’s Favorite Chefs”

With José Andrés

The Bazaar by José Andrés

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Filed under Little Bites, Recipes

Let Go of my Ego

I’ve never thought of myself as egotistical. I don’t usually brag, unless it’s about my niece and nephews, or when Mario Batali triumphs on Iron Chef America… and most definitely when my favorite movie of the year (“Slumdog Millionaire”) wins a Golden Globe or four.

This past Sunday, I was catching up on “My Life As A Foodie” Podcasts by Phil Nigash. My husband and I were listening while I cooked dinner and we were surprised (thrilled!) to hear the host talking about MyLastBite.com. 

Phil and I had been emailing for the past couple of weeks… sharing an obsession for food and molecular cooking… but I was still shocked to hear him discussing my website on his Podcast. Hearing someone talk about my passion for food, is just so different from reading about it. To me it just feels more alive.

I was drinking a glass of wine when I was listening to the podcast, and I swear… Phil sounds like Anthony Bourdain to me. Not just his voice, but also his self-deprecating demeanor. So by the time I finished listening to it for a third time (with more wine), it was even more of a thrill!

Anyway, I’m a little embarrassed to say that it really did stroke my ego, but more importantly it shows true generosity of spirit from Phil. His kind words not only gave me a humongous smile, but they also gave me that one thing I think every writer in the blogosphere desires… a great big scoop of validation. I’m out there every day, writing and blogging, following my passion with all my heart, and it’s being acknowledged.

Thank you Phil.

I’m posting the excerpt here (it’s just under 6 minutes) to share with my readers, friends and family.

Please know that it comes with a large pot of gratefulness, and just the tiniest pinch of ego… which I’m sure will be safely tucked away in the pantry before long.

 

(press the “play” button above)

Please check out Phil’s blog (including his beautiful molecular cooking photos!) 

Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie episode on Molecular Gastronomy

About Hervé This

My original “Molecular Cooking” article, with the email from  Hervé This

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Filed under Food Stories (written by me), Molecular Cooking