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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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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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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

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Animal Gets Cookin’

When I heard that my favorite L.A. chefs (Animal Restaurant’s Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook) were offering a cooking class, I immediately signed up and invited two friends, Jade and Afaf. I love the chefs new cookbook “Two Dudes, One Pan” which recently was voted one of the “Top 10 Cookbooks of 2008” by National Public Radio. The chapters in the book are divided up by pans: “The Big Bowl” (for salads & dressings), “Nonstick Skillet”, “Frying Pan”, “Dutch Oven”, “Roasting Pan” and “Baking Dish”. I’ve already tried some of the delicious recipes and am continuing to post them here.

The cooking class was held at “Let’s Get Cookin'” in Westlake Village. It was my first visit to this little gem and I loved the small culinary store up front. The shop is stocked with gourmet ingredients, artisanal pastas, cookware and tons of groovy gadgets!

The classroom area was located in the back of the space. It consisted of a long counter which worked as the “stage” area for guest chefs. We students were seated in chairs with tables that face the cooking stage. To the left of the students, there were in-house chefs assisting Vinny & Jon throughout their presentation.

It was all very organized and the evening flew by quickly. We watched as the chefs prepared five recipes from their book, and yes indeed…. we got to eat everything! Delicious and good fun!

On the menu:

Fennel Apple Salad, MyLastBite.com

Winter Fennel Salad w/ Apples, Grapes, Cinnamon Maple Vinaigrette

 

 
Carbonara, MyLastBite.comBucatini Carbonara w/ C Pancetta and Peas

 

 

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower, MyLastBite.com

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower w/ Capers and Parmigiano

 

 

Lemon Roasted Chicken, MyLastBite.comLemon Roasted Chicken

 

 

Fallen Chocolate Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce, MyLastBite.comFallen Chocolate Cake w/ Rum Caramel Sauce

 

 

The recipes can be found on the following pages of “Two Dudes, One Pan” by Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo.

Winter Fennel Salad w/ Apples, Grapes, Cinnamon Maple Vinaigrette, pg. 30

 Fennel Salad, MyLastBite.com

Bucatini Carbonara w/ Pancetta and Peas, pg. 154

Pasta Carbonara, MyLastBite.com

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower w/ Capers and Parmigiano, pg. 178

Spicy Cauliflower, MyLastBite.com

Lemon Roasted Chicken, pg. 189
Lemon Roasted Chicken, MyLastBite.com

Fallen Chocolate Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce, pg. 231
Fallen Chocolate Cake, MyLastBite.com

—————–

Photos after the class…
Jon, Jo, Vin, MyLastBite.com
 Jon, Jo & Vinny

Afaf with Chef Jon Shook, MyLastBite.com
 Afaf & Jon

Jade with Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, MyLastBite.com
 Jon, Jade & Vinny

Original Class Date: Wednesday, November 12, 6:30 PM

Cost: $80 per person

My visits (with LOTS of food photos) to Animal Restaurant

About Let’s Get Cookin’

The Book

Animal Restaurant Website

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Great Chefs of L.A. 2008

Last week I attended the 22nd Annual Great Chefs of Los Angeles event. It was held nearby at CBS studios, and the proceeds went to the National Kidney Foundation.

Participating Chefs (and Restaurants) included: The Event Host – Govind Armstrong (8oz. & Table8), Chef of Honor – Gino Angelini (Angelini Osteria and La Terza,) Neal Fraser (Grace & BLD), Celestino Drago (Drago Restaurant), Frank Leon (La Loggia), Andrew Steiner (Andrew’s Cheese Shop), our friends Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (Animal) and many more. 

Unfortunately for me I came down with a stomach flu a few days before the event, which is a food writer’s worst nightmare for sure. Luckily what I also had was my firefighter-in-training, eating-machine nephew Cody joining me, so it was a fun afternoon watching him enjoy all the things I couldn’t.

Of the few bites I did take, my favorites were the Apple Pie “Cappuccino” from The BLVD, Timanoix Cheese from Andrew’s Cheese Shop and the tummy comforting Grilled Cheese with Pulled Shortribs from 8oz.

Cody really loved EVERYTHING and said his favorites were the Kataifi-Wrapped Langoustine in a Poached Lettuce Cream Sauce by La Loggia, and the Duck Confit from The Blvd. We both loved Animal’s Pork Belly & Kimchee which we always order at the restaurant.

Smoked Scallops, MyLastBite.com
Smoked Scallop Carpaccio with Pomegranate Seeds by Panzanella Restaurant

Wild Boar, MyLastBite.com
Wild Boar with Soft Polenta topped with Fig Sauce by Drago Restaurant

Crab Salad Spoons, MyLastBite.com
Dungeness Crab Salad with a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette by Grace Restaurant

 Langoustine in a Poached Lettuce Cream Sauce, MyLastBite.com
Kataifi-Wrapped Langoustine in a Poached Lettuce Cream Sauce by La Loggia Restaurant

Apple Pie Cappuccino, MyLastBite.com
Apple Pie Cappuccino and Duck Confit with Potato Wrapper from The BLVD at the Beverly Wilshire

Grilled Cheese w/ Pulled Shortribs, MyLastBite.com
Grilled Cheese with Pulled Shortribs from 8oz.

Animal's Pork Belly, MyLastBite.com
Animal’s Pork Belly

Animal's Pork Belly, MyLastBite.com
Pork Belly & Kimchee by Animal

Chef Vinny Dotolo, MyLastBite.com
Chef Vinny Dotolo, Animal

Cody and Rick Baker, MyLastBite.com
Cody with Special Effects Master, Rick Baker

 Thomas Lennon, Cody, Jeff Garlin, MyLastBite.com
Thomas Lennon (Reno 911), Cody, Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Event Date: Sunday November 9, 2008, CBS Studios (Radford).

More about the Kidney Foundation

Restaurant & Food Links:

Andrew’s Cheese

Animal

Drago

Grace

La Loggia

Panzanella

8oz. Burger Bar

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Animal [7]

I eat anything. Even if I don’t particularly like it, I’ll still eat it if it’s served. Except when it comes to lamb.

My first experience with lamb was during a visit to my father in Scotland when I was sixteen. We went to a restaurant that served authentic Scottish dishes and I was served mutton. I thought it the most disgusting thing I had ever seen or smelled, and embarrassed my dad by refusing to eat it.

Over the years I associated all lamb with mutton. Of course I eventually learned that lamb, young lamb, had a totally different taste than old skanky mutton meat. Still I wavered whenever I was served lamb at a friend’s house or at a party. I NEVER ordered it in restaurants and it became sort of a joke in my family…. “oh Jo will eat anything but lamb”.

There were some rare instances in my life where I ate lamb and actually liked it. Like when my Greek friends Elli and Daphne worked at their mother’s restaurant in Eugene, Oregon. Poppi served Greek and Indian food in her charming spot called “Anatolia”. During one summer visit we had a picnic by a lake. After swimming and relaxing on the shore, Poppi brought out a basket of leftovers from the night before and started plating up some garlic rubbed, grilled lamb souvlaki. I took a deep breath (trying to plug my nose from the inside) and reached for a stick of lamb. I took one bite, then took a breath. I don’t know if it was the garlic or the fresh Oregon air, but I liked it! I had seconds!

That was twenty years ago.

This past summer I went to the Gourmet on Fire food event with friends and family. My favorite bite of the event? Neal (Grace & BLD) Frasers LAMB Burgers. Yep. Lamb. I had seconds AND thirds. Recently I chatted with chef Fraser and told him how much I loved those burgers. My husband butted in and said “and she doesn’t eat lamb, so that’s a real compliment”.

While eating dinner at Animal Restaurant last week, chef Vinny whispered that he would be getting some amazing lamb in the next day. I sort of gave him a blank look and said “Great!”… but honestly I was thinking “Oh my but I don’t eat lamb! ANYTHING BUT LAMB!”. My husband does eat it, so I figured I would make him order it the next time we went to Animal… which was last night.

We had an early dinner with friends Jeffrey and Rina. Our server Billy recommended the LAMB, so we ordered it of course, as well as the Rock Cod, Raw Amberjack, Petit Basque and Fried Hominy. I also ordered the Duck Confit as a “back up” for me in case I couldn’t take eating the dreaded lamb.

Well surprise, surprise! I thought the Leg of Lamb was WONDERFUL. Tender, pink and juicy, served on a bed of stewed peppers and potatoes. I should have known not to worry if it came from the Animal kitchen!

So for any “lamb naysayers” out there… take note. I can now stand tall, with my head held up high and say with fierce conviction… “I EAT ANYTHING… EVEN LAMB!”.

Animal Restaurant's Duck Confit by MyLastBite.com
Duck Confit, Orange Braised Fennel, Shishito Peppers $15

Animal Restaurant's Rock Cod by MyLastBite.com
Rock Cod, King Crab, Tabasco Butter, Gold Rice Succotash Cipollini $26

Animal Restaurant's Fried Hominy by MyLastBite.com
Fried Hominy with Lime $5

Animal Restaurant's Leg of Lamb by MyLastBite.com
DELICIOUS Leg of Lamb for Two, Stewed Peppers and Potatoes $52

Dining Date 11/2/08

“Anything But Lamb” by Jo Stougaard

-> Visits 8 & 9

<- Visits 5 & 6

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

Queen City Grill on Urbanspoon

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Animal [5 & 6]

Visit #5 and #6

10/5/08
Animal Restaurant's Foie on Biscuits and Gravy by MyLastBite.com
Dinner with Dean & Steph. Foie Gras on Biscuits and Gravy! Hooray! It was so worth the wait. This was by far my favorite Foie Gras dish EVER! 
Thanks Vinny!!!!

10/30/08
Back at Animal Restaurant last night. This time with my girlfriend Laur and our production designer neighbor, Nelson. My husband had band practice… which was a shame because he really missed out on a great evening!The three of us shared five appetizers and two entrees… plus dessert. I know, I know… it was an absolute glutton-fest. But the food is SO AMAZING at Animal, that you don’t care if your brain tells you that you’re full. You don’t care if you have to secretly undo the top button of your pants at the table. You don’t care if you need to recline in the car on the way home because you can’t breathe… The food is THAT GOOD.

My favorites from last night’s dinner…Grouper, King Crab, Tabasco Butter at Animal by MyLastBite.com
Grouper, King Crab, Tabasco Butter with Gold Rice Succcotash & Cipollini$28
I didn’t think anything could top my Animal favorites… the 
Foie on Biscuits & Gravy or the Raw Amberjack, but this super grouper did it. 

Red Fish Crudo at Animal by MyLastBite.com
Red Fish Crudo, Blueberry, Serrano Chili, Apple Slaw $14
Beautiful, clean and tart. Just as tasty as my beloved Amberjack! 

Poutine at  at Animal by MyLastBite.com
Poutine, Ox-tail Gravy, Vermont Cheddar $12
In these tough economic times, I wish everyone could feel as good as I did whilst happily working my way through this plate of comforting goodness. Poutine are traditionally made with cheese curds, but chef Vinny wasn’t happy with curds that were locally avail, so he went for Vermont cheddar. You know when you eat something and you sort of feel like you want to cry? It was that sort of contentment.

Dining Date 10/5/08 and 10/30/08

– > Visit #7

<- Visits 3 & 4

 

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

http://www.animalrestaurant.com

Animal on Urbanspoon

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