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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 Flirtini Incident

The last time Peter and I hosted Easter brunch at our house, it was sort of a disaster.

We invited my sister Janet, Peter’s sister Susan and both their families for a late Sunday brunch. I spent a few days getting the back garden perfectly decorated with new flowers, and set up a long dining room table outside with my great aunt’s hand-painted china. I even got out my Scottish (clan Maxwell) grandmother’s antique linen napkins and gently ironed each piece, which wasn’t so easy to do because of the hand-embroidered “M” sticking up on the corners.

It was a gorgeous Easter Sunday and our backyard looked like a page out of House & Garden magazine, especially with the flea-market chandelier hanging above the table. Peter secured the heavy fixture to a large branch on our oak tree, even though we didn’t need the light of course. The glass made the garden so pretty, twinkling in the sun through the leaves.

I always like having a “signature” cocktail when I entertain for a large group (even for brunch!). It makes it easier for the hostess (so I don’t have to set up a full bar) and it makes it fun for the guests, especially if the drink is something new.

A few weeks before the disastrous Easter, I was watching the Sex in the City episode where Samantha befriends the transvestites in her new apartment building. Throughout most of the episode she and the “ladies” were arguing over late-night noise outside her bedroom window and Samantha couldn’t get any sleep. After an ongoing catfight with the “guys”, including throwing water on them from her apartment window, she finally decided it would be better just to make nice, and hosted a roof-top barbecue for the whole gang. The episode ended with Samantha raising a glass, toasting Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and her new “girl friends” with a cocktail called, “Flirtini”.

Samantha’s Flirtini Recipe:
2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Apricot Liquor or Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
Splash of Champagne, garnish with a strawberry

I thought it would be so fabulous to serve Flirtinis for Easter lunch. They sounded so “fresh and fruity, like springtime”! It was about noon when our guests arrived and the grown-ups started drinking the first of several pitchers. I had never gotten a buzz so fast before (I’m sure it was the vodka mixed with champagne), and by the time we sat down to eat, we were all stinking DRUNK.

What type of food did I serve for our beautiful Easter brunch? I can’t remember (or maybe I don’t want to remember). I had a hangover by late evening and spent the next two days cleaning and packing up the antique dishes. All that effort setting up the garden, gathering our family together, and the memory of the day is just a painful blur.

I haven’t had a Flirtini since, and only remembered it when I suggested to Peter that we should host Easter at our house this year. But he had a much better idea: How about we treat our family to Easter brunch at the Bazaar?

*Brunch at the Bazaar by José Andrés [visit 10]

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Huevos a la Cubana “Andy Garcia” (12 Tiny Eggs Sunny Side Up), $12. One of the three new brunch items on the menu at the Bazaar by José Andrés. I know this LOOKS like a lot of yolk, but these were small quail eggs. Lightly crispy underneath with a savory tomato sauce on top.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Eggs Benedict “New Way”, Iberico Ham, $18. So beautiful that I couldn’t stop turning the plate and taking photos! The piece of ham was CRISPY and crackled when I bit into it, and the foam tasted like butter. I’ll never be able to have Eggs Benedict anywhere else again.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Savory Spanish Torrijas: Iberico Ham, Egg 63 (egg was poached at  63ºF.) and Idiazabal Cheese, $18. This was my favorite new brunch item. It was very similar to french toast under the ham… but so much better of course!

Along with the new brunch items, we shared dishes (that I’ve had several times before) from both the regular Traditional and Modern menus including:

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Tuna Ceviche and Avocado Roll, $12. My sister Janet’s favorite.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Crab Meat Steamed Buns with Pickled Japanese Cucumbers, $18. Three per order (about two bites per little sandwich), never enough!

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Croquetas de Pollo (Chicken and Bechamel Fritters), $8 This is ALWAYS a favorite at the table. Perfect bites (like large tater tots) of little “chicken pot pies”.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Bloody Mary: Freshly made tomato juice with a celery-wasabi foam, $16. Definitely could have been a meal in itself! I loved the wasabi foam on top.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
In front: Tableside “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka, $20. House-made Lemonade (freshly squeezed lemon juice, rosemary syrup), $6. Bloody Mary (back, left).

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Felix Meana making the “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka. I love when the liquid nitrogen cart comes rolling up to the table. This screwdriver was velvety smooth and strong! We all loved it.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Jade (partial), my nephew Cody, Peter’s niece, Chanel.
Top Right: My niece Kindal and Cody’s girlfriend Jade.
Bottom Right: Peter’s sister Susan and her boyfriend, Jerry.
Bottom Left: Chanel, Peter and Miles (Peter’s nephew).

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Miles and my friend, Laur.
Top Right: Susan, Jerry, my sister, Janet and nephew, Chace.
Bottom Right: Jo (me!) and Peter.
Bottom Left: Cody and Chanel.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Clockwise from top left: Miles digging into dessert, Chace gets comfy on the Blanco couch. With the twins, Chace and Kindal.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Peter holding court in the Blanca room! The Rojo room was closed for the restaurant’s first official brunch.

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.com
Chef Marcel Vigneron invited the twins (my sister’s kids, Chace and Kindal) back to see the kitchen. They are both fans of “Top Chef” and have been cooking since they were really little, so this was heaven! Thanks Chef!

Dishes we also shared, that I’ve had on previous visits:

Sweet Potato Chips with Yogurt Tamarind Dip, $10

Philly Cheesesteak Air Bread, $8

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

Foie Gras and Quince on mini Brioche Bun, $15

Nitro Coconut Floating Island Dessert, $10

We also shared a pitcher of Sangria Rojo, $42. (no photo)

The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
(310) 246-5555
Dining date: 4/12/09

Bazaar Brunch, MyLastBite.comAn extra treat for me was meeting Chef Katsuya Fukushima (in photo, at right). I had seen him on an episode of “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” and was wowed by his knowledge of “modern” cuisine. Chef Fukushima works closely with José Andrés at MiniBar in Washington D.C.

A very special THANK YOU to Bazaar Manager, Felix Meana (also in photo) for taking such good care of us. You made the day extra special.

Thanks also to William and Audra for organizing our large (table of twelve) reservation!!

All my Bazaar photos on Flickr

Mentioned above:

Sex in the City: Episode 48

Top Chef

The twins cooking

House & Garden

“The Flirtini Incident” originally published April 15, 2009

The Bazaar no longer serves brunch.

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

The Bazaar by José Andrés [5,6]

Friday night at the Bazaar with the guys. No special occasion, just me and three handsome men celebrating the coming weekend with groovy, “new way” cocktails and platters of mostly “modern” tapas.

Joining me was my husband Peter (of course), our friend Julian (an artist and musician in Peter’s band), and photographer extraordinaire Andrew Macpherson. This was Julian and Andrew’s inaugural visit to the Bazaar, and I’ve jokingly started to call these first timers my “Bazaar Virgins” when I check in with the hostess… which pretty much makes me the devoted “Bazaar Courtesan”, I know.

So what’s better than Friday night at the Bazaar with three adventurous, sophisticated and talented men?

The answer of course is, Saturday night at the Bazaar with three adventurous, sophisticated and talented men! That’s right… we went two nights in a row, but understand this is only because we heard that the man himself, the one and only José Andrés, would (possibly) be in town. Indeed he was, and I got serious goose bumps seeing him standing nearby in his sexy white chef coat! On his PBS show, “Made in Spain”, he usually dresses in casual button-down shirts and khaki pants, but watching him command the room in uniform was sort of intoxicating.

At first I was a little nervous for the staff, especially for the crew in the open kitchen. Andrés is a perfectionist and he was definitely inspecting (sometimes photographing) each dish as it went out to diners. I looked at his face and there was something missing. Where was the exuberant smile that he sports on television? Where was his jovial, “everybody’s my pal” demeanor? 

Then I thought, “oh, he’s WORKING… he’s the BOSS”, it’s the “Bazaar by José Andrés” after all! When he took a seat near our table, I began to hear his familiar laugh as he started to relax. Since I was so used to the “happy-go-lucky” chef on television, I had thrown myself into a nervous state when the “real-life, this-is-business” chef emerged. It was pretty funny that I was the one that was flustered, because when I looked back in the kitchen, I realized that the crew (and the entire staff for that matter) were calm and collected… confidently gliding through dinner service. 

As we enjoyed our drinks and tapas, I kept hoping that I’d get a minute with chef Andrés, so I could tell him how much I love his newest restaurant. By that point he had been out of the kitchen for over an hour or so, and was happily holding court in one of the big, black leather booths against the wall.

We had met before, briefly, at Wolfgang Puck’s American Wine and Food Festival last fall. I told him then how I couldn’t stop obsessing over a Spanish blue cheese that I first learned about on “Made in Spain”. He laughed when I blamed him for my creamy addiction and blurted, “Cabrales is like CRACK”! Not my classiest moment, but it was a good one.

After our extended Bazaar dinner, we did get to say hello and I was happily stunned to learn that José Andrés had visited my website. When I introduced myself, he said “I didn’t recognize you at first, without the bread in your mouth”. 

Note to self: From now on, carry a demi-baguette when dining out.

What we ate:

 'Pa amb' tomaquet, Jamones. MyLastBite.com
‘Pa amb’ tomaquet (bread with tomato in Catalan) – Toasted sliced rustic bread brushed with fresh tomatoes AND Jamones (“Flight of all three” platter): Jamón Serrano (literally mountain ham), Jamón Ibérico (Iberian Ham), Jamón Serrano de bellota (higher fat content than Jamón Serrano).

Dragon's Breath! MyLastBite.com
Making the “Dragon’s Breath”, Caramel popcorn bites cooked in liquid nitrogen.

Tres Dragons, MyLastBite.com
Andrew, Peter and Julian experiencing the “Dragon’s Breath”!  What a shame this has been removed from the regular menu (but may be available in the private Saam dining room).

Japanese "Taco", MyLastBite.com
Japanese “Taco”: Grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron.

Above photos taken on Friday 3/13/09
Below photos taken on Saturday 3/14/09

Our Reserved Table at Bar Centro, MyLastBite.com
Our reserved table in Bar Centro

Magic Mojito, MyLastBite.com 
The “Magic Mojito” arrives with a martini glass filled with cotton candy. Then the waiter pours rum (strained over ice) which dissolves into the glass!

At the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Peter and Andrew enjoying from top left: Pa’amb Tomaguet (Cataln Style toasted bread rubbed with tomato), Not Your Everyday Caprese (Tomato and Liquid Mozzarella Pipettes), Sweet Potato Chips with Tamarind Yogurt Dip, Jamón Ibérico. In the middle are the Papas Canarias (Salty, Wrinkled Potatoes, with Mojo Verde Sauce on the side) and a partial view of the Organized Arugula Salad (Raspberries, Corn, Cabrales Blue Cheese)

NOTE: Photographing at the Chef’s table is difficult. We jokingly called it the “TRON Table”!

Potato Foam, Caviar MyLastBite.com
Tortilla de patatas: Potato Foam, egg 63 (cooked at 63 degrees), caramelized onions (served in egg shell). I LOVE this new version of the potato foam. It used to come in a large martini glass and I prefer this smaller portion with more textures. On the right side of photo is the American Caviar Cone.

One Bite Wonder! MyLastBite.com
Foie Gras Cotton Candy! Me, Julian, my husband Peter and Andrew.

Meeting Jose, MyLastBite.com
Julian, Andrew, José Andrés, Peter

With Jose Andres, MyLastBite.com
Jo & José

At the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
With the chefs that keep us coming back for more! Marcel Vigneron, (LUCKY me), Michael Voltaggio and Ruben Garcia

Bites we usually have on every visit:

Foie Gras and Quince on mini Brioche Bun

Organized Caesar Salad with Quail Egg and Parmesan

Boneless Chicken Wings with Green Olive Puree and Ice Plant

Foie Gras rolled in Corn Nuts and wrapped in Cotton Candy

Latas Y Conservas: King Crab and Raspberries

Philly Cheesesteak: Air Bread, Whipped Cheddar and Wagyu Beef 

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

Mentioned above:

Andrew Macpherson’s Photographs

Julian Hill’s Artwork

Peter’s band, Rubylith

Meeting José the first time

Cabrales Cheese

Made in Spain 

<– Bazaar Visit #4

–> Bazaar Visit #7

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Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

Bazaar News

Bazaar News, MyLastBite.comHere’s a terrific look inside the Bazaar restaurant,
including some tasty food shots as well.

Note: The video took a little while to load for me (I think it’s my mac), but it’s totally worth it!

Watch Video Clip


Thanks to Phil, for uploading and sharing it.
Check out Phil at “My Life as a Foodie”

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Filed under Little Bites

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

Dreams do come true…

Jose Andres and Jo Stougaard MyLastBite.com

with the fabulous José Andrés at the American Wine and Food Festival
Note: His new L.A. restaurant is slated to open before the end of the year.
“The Bazaar by José Andrés is a modern-day indoor piazza where guests and locals alike can enjoy pioneering culinary creations and intricately-concocted libations throughout several spaces: Bar Centro, Blanco, Rojo and the Pâtisserie.” More about José Andrés

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