Petrossian restaurant is as elegant or casual as you want it to be. Sure, there’s the Kaluga caviar tasting that can set you back a few hundred of your hard-earned bucks. A pasta hand-pressed with caviar powder is so luxurious you may want to share it with a friend (it’s worth it). But there are also plenty of reasonably priced items, like the Dungeness Crab Sweet Corn Soup or Asparagus with Foie Gras Ravioli, that cost under $20.
Recently, Chef Giselle Wellman cooked up some new dishes for myself and writer Julie Wolfson to try (gratis) on a warm, spring afternoon. Contrary to what most folks think, I don’t accept too many comped meals (my waistline can’t take it!), and always note when I do.
About: Petrossian is a casually elegant destination for lunch, dinner, happy hour, and weekend brunch featuring a selection of French-inspired California cuisine artfully prepared by Executive Chef Giselle Wellman. A boutique area adjacent to the dining room offers guests a way to continue the experience at home and is an ideal shopping destination for host or hostess gifts and customized epicurean gift baskets including tastes of Caviar, Smoked Salmon, Foie Gras, and Handmade Chocolates. More info on website
Petrossian 321 N Robertson Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90048 (310) 271-0576
Chef Ben Bailly was kind enough to invite L.A. food bloggers to Petrossian’s “Industry Night”, a special evening just for folks in the food industry (including chefs, servers and bartenders). Low cost drinks included $3 beer, $5 wine, and my favorite, the $7 hibiscus champagne. It was simply a fun evening chatting with friends old and new, and the best part was the selection of FREE delicious appetizers!
Borscht and Gazpacho soup
Manager Chris, Chef Ben Bailly. Borscht and Gazpacho soup, Salmon Rillette
Bacon-wrapped apricots and dates
Butternut Squash Soup with Pecans
Sliders were awesome! (Pork Belly Slider with Carmelized Onions not shown)
Hibiscus Champagne Cocktail
Lisa, myself and Hanh having fun at Industry night!
321 North Robertson Boulevard
(one block north of Beverly Boulevard)
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Coming soon to Petrossian: Caviar Tastings For Two offers a tasting of Petrossian’s finest caviar, hosted by one of Petrossian’s caviar experts. Learn the story behind Petrossian Caviar, then enjoy a prix fixe dinner.” more info
After learning the simple recipe for making flavored “air” at Molecular Gastronomy Class, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to aerate first. Multiple visits to the the Bazaar by José Andrés had me familiar with Bar Centro’s “salt air” topped margaritas, and my favorite “new way” martini with spherified (Ferran Adria) olive is topped with a tangy brine “air”.
Peter and I love grilling flatiron steak, and I make homemade chimichurri sauce at least once a week. But in our house it’s not just for beef. We also add it to eggs, quesadillas, pastas, and even tuna salad.
To make the “air”, there are actually only two ingredients needed: some sort of liquid and the lecite (aka lecithin), a natural soy-based emulsifier (links below).
Traditional chimichurri is usually made with two liquids: olive oil and acids, usually limes or vinegar. To make my chimichurri air, I left OUT the olive oil and just drizzled the oil on the steak directly, BEFORE adding the “air” on top.
I like my chimichurri REALLY spicy and wasn’t sure the heat would remain after straining and aerating, but it did. The light (and well, airy) texture was a refreshing change from the standard sauce.
I certainly don’t plan on going crazy with the lecite (although I do think a Heinz 57 “air” would be an awesome return to my childhood). To me, it’s simply about learning yet another delicious (and fun!) cooking technique at home.
My Recipe for Chimichurri Air:
9 oz liquified chimichurri sauce (recipe follows)
1.5 g lecithin (aka lecite), food grade
Olive oil (to drizzle on steak)
To make the chimichurri sauce:
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 medium jalapeno chilies (or more if you like it spicy)
8 oz of fresh lime juice or red wine vinegar
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
Fleur de sel (or sea salt)
Place all ingredients in a mini-chop or food processor and blend until liquified.
Measure 9 oz of liquid (add vinegar or water if needed).
Then pour the liquid through a fine strainer to remove any large pieces.
Make sure it’s 9 oz of liquid to 1.5 g lecithin (again, add vinegar or water if needed).
Place the chimichurri sauce and lecite into a large bowl and blend with a stick-blender until foaming. Note: I have a large, plastic container that I use for this. It can get pretty messy in a standard bowl, so wear an apron!
Prepare the steak:
Grill steak to desired doneness and let meat rest for at least ten minutes.
Cut and plate then drizzle olive oil directly on steak.
Add salt then scoop out whipped “air” from bowl and gently place on meat.
If the “air” becomes watery, simply blend again (not too long) until foamy. Serve immediately!
Molecular Gastronomy Class #2 – “Airs and Mozzarella Spheres”
“Laboratory Work” was the title of the second Molecular Gastronomy class I attended in February, and it was so much more fun than the first. Instead of learning just one recipe throughout the afternoon, we were allowed to work on several. My favorites included: Airs, Mozzarella Spheres, “Wine” Caviar, and Hot Ice Cream.
Like the initial class I took back in November, this was also taught by Chef Michael Young at Sur la Table in Los Angeles. I was joined again by husband Peter and food-lovin’ nephew Cody and fellow foodblogger Phil (My Life as a Foodie) and his friend, Jill.
Before coming to class, I was most excited about learning how to make “airs”. Since purchasing Ferran Adria’s el Bulli (molecular gastronomy) mini kit, I hadn’t yet had the courage to try out the Lecite, which is part of the ‘EMULSIFICACIÓN’ Group. Lecite is a natural soy lecithin-based emulsifier, and it’s ideal for making flavored airs (links below).
As it turns out, making foams and airs was easy: add the Lecite and whip until frothy!
Recipe for Carrot Air:
18 oz carrot juice
3g lecithin (aka lecite), food grade
Place the carrot juice and lecite into a large bowl and blend with a stick-blender until foaming. Scoop out whipped “air” from top and serve.
In photos: Cody and Peter, Carrot air, Phil, Jill, Cody and Peter
I’ve had mozarrella spheres at the Bazaar several times, so I really enjoyed learning how to make them in class!
Recipe for Mozzarella Spheres:
250 g Buffalo Mozzerella
150 g Heavy Cream
5 g Calcium Lactate (1.25%)
Tomato Juice (optional)
1 L. Water
5 g Sodium Alginate (0.5%)
1. Mix mozzarella with cream and calcium lactate.
2. Fill bowl with water and add sodium alginate.
3. Stir until dissolved.
4. Transfer mozzarella mix to alginate bath.
5. Allow 2 minutes for setting
Optional: Inject spheres with tomato juice and serve. Note: We had a difficult time injecting the tomato juice, so I would probably leave that part out if trying for the first time.
In photos: Trying to inject the mozzarella balls with tomato juice.
Making the apple caviar was easy this time around, since I’ve made it several times myself at home. After our group finished making the caviar, Peter said “to heck with apple juice, where’s the alcohol?” Chef Young overheard and handed Peter an open bottle of wine, and that’s when we REALLY started having fun. The wine caviar was fantastic, and it will make for a whole new twist on “Wine and Cheese” nights for sure!
Recipe for Apple Caviar
9 oz. Apple Juice (or wine, we used red)
2 g (.07 oz.) Sodium Alginate
18 oz. water
2.5 g (.09 oz.) Calcium Chloride
1. Mix the sodium alginate with 1/2 of the apple juice and blend until dissolved.
2. Mix in remaining juice, strain and allow to sit to remove any air bubbles.
3. Dissolve the calcium chloride in the water.
4. Fill syringe or squeeze bottle with the juice mixture.
5. Softly expel mixture into calcium chloride bath drop by drop.
6. After a minute, remove gently with a tea strainer and rinse gently in cold water.
Photo above: Peter’s wine “caviar”!
When Chef Young said he would be demonstrating how to make “Hot Ice Cream”, all I could think about was the deep-fried ice cream balls I used to order at El Torito restaurant, but this was nothing like my favorite high school dinner-date treat! It was also the most difficult “recipe” of the day. So difficult, that we all pretty much just watched our instructor take us through each step over the stove.
Recipe for “Hot Ice Cream”
306 g Whole Milk Yogurt
230 g Cream Cheese
80 g Agave Nectar
154 g Water
1 Vanilla Bean, scraped
1 Pinch of Sea Salt
11.55 g. Methyl Cellulose (1.5%)
1. In a blender puree together the yogurt, cream cheese, agave nectar, vanilla and salt. Blend just until the mixture comes together as a smooth puree, but do not aerate.
2. Heat the water to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling remove from heat and whisk in the methyl cellulose.
3. Once the methyl cellulose is dispersed, add it to the blender and puree until the mixture is homogenized, again do not aerate.
4. Prepare ice bath. Pour mixture into a bowl and chill in ice bath. Set the ice-cold mixture rest in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight before poaching the ice cream.
5. When ready to make hot ice cream, heat a pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, shut off the heat and scoop the ice cream base.
6. As you scoop, wipe the edges of the ice cream scoop and then immerse the scoop and its contents into the hot water. You will see the ice cream set, and then dislodge it from the scoop. The ice cream should poach for about one minute for small scoops and longer for larger scoops. Depending on the size you may have to turn the heat back on to keep the water hot.
7. Once the ice cream is set, remove the scoops and drain briefly on a paper towel and place into serving dishes. As the mixture sits, the ice cream will melt.
Please note: I did not test this recipe myself, but it was fascinating to watch and was delicious. My Cody nephew thought it would be perfect on a freshly-made waffle.
Photos: Phil, Chef young, Jill, Cody and Peter. “Hot” Ice Cream made with Methyl Cellulose.
Class Date: 2/22/2009
Sur la Table, Los Angeles (at the Grove)
I recently took my Molecular Cooking kit to my sister’s house for an afternoon of food fun with the twins (Kindal & Chace, age 12). After setting up the ingredients (including calcium chloride and sodium alginate), I had my niece and nephew read the recipe for making fruit “caviar”. My niece Kindal said “That’s it? This is gonna be EASY!”.
They used the same recipe and ingredients as I did for the ruby red grapefruit caviar, but also added Gummy Bears and Jelly Bellys into the larger balls. They did this by inserting the candy into the juice solution, just as it was scooped into the algin bath. Even my older nephew Cody got in on the fun, and there was a bit of fighting to take turns using the syringes. Next time I’ll make sure to bring three with me!
The caviar were perfect and we served them with lemon sorbet for dinner. The Gummy Bear and Jelly Belly spheres were oddly shaped, but the kids thought they were cool. They loved biting through the spherical balls to get to the candy center. When we plated them, I actually thought they looked like pretty, little river rocks.
All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon watching the kids do what kids do best…. play with their food.
Kindal weighing the calcium chloride.
Weighing the juice.
Chace & Kindal taking turns mixing the sodium alginate with the juice.
Last week I received the elBulli Texturas MiniKit that I ordered from the UK. Not only did it include the groovy Texturas ingredients, but also the tools and guidebook that I needed to really jump into this brave new world.
The tools that came with the elBulli Texturas kit included a collecting (straining) spoon, measuring spoons and a syringe. I have to say, there is something sort of thrilling about using tools with “Albert Y Ferran Adrià” ENGRAVED on them. It’s silly, but it makes the experience a little more special.
The phrase “Molecular Gastronomy ” (or molecular cooking) used to scare me. It sounded like brainy “science fiction” gibberish, especially when I started reading about techniques called “spherification” and “emulsification”.
My current obsession with it began after I attended a “Molecular Gastronomy” class in November. The next day I started ordering the special ingredients and tools, then created a “molecular cooking” corner in my funky, vintage kitchen. During that first class, our instructor (the awesome Chef Michael Young) demonstrated how to make Ferran Adria’s fruit caviar, but I didn’t actually get to try the caviar recipe that day.
A couple of years ago, I remember being dumbfounded while watching Ferran and Albert Adrià working at their elBulliTaller (laboratory) in Barcelona, Spain. It was on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” episode titled “Decoding Ferran Adrià“. The brothers Adrià were showing Bourdain how to make mango “caviar” and I thought, “I wish I could do THAT in my kitchen!”.
Well I’m very proud to say that yesterday… I did it. I spent all afternoon making various sizes of elBulli “caviar”. It was AWESOME.
What I’ve discovered thus far is that “molecular cooking” requires three SIMPLE things:
1. Special ingredients such as Sodium Alginate and Calcium Chloride…
2. Toolsincluding a digital scale, squeeze bottle and straining spoon…
3. And most of all… ENTHUSIASM!
Recipe for Ruby Red Grapefruit “Caviar” (I picked Ruby Red Grapefruit for the color… such a pretty pale pink!)
9 oz. Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
18 oz. Cold Water
1 g Sodium Alginate (or Algin)
3 g Calcium Chloride (or Calcic)
1 large bowl
2 medium bowls
Fine mesh strainer
1. In one of the medium bowls, fill with cold water until the bottom is covered up to about four inches. Set this water bath aside. It will be used as the final step in making the fruit caviar.
2. In the large bowl, mix the sodium alginate with 1/2 the fruit juice and blend till completely dissolved.
3. Mix in the remaining fruit juice
4. Strain into empty medium bowl and allow to sit to remove any air bubbles.
5. In a medium bowl, dissolve the calcium chloride in the 18 oz. of cold water. I used a small whisk and it took about a minute to be completely dissolved.
6. Fill syringe or squeeze bottle with the juice mixture. It will be a little thick and “goopy”.
7. Gently discharge the mixture into the calcium chloride bath drop by drop.
8. After a minute, gently remove the “caviar” using a straining spoon and add to the cold water bath.
9. Wait a couple of minutes then remove the “caviar” from the fresh water into a serving bowl or serving spoon.
Note: I had a kitchen towel folded next to the water bath. Right after removing a spoonful of caviar (with the straining or collecting spoon), I gently tapped the bottom of the spoon onto the towel and it removed the excess water.
I first titled this post “Molecular Gastronomy Class”, and began adding a few photos and information links to molecular gastronomy cookbooks, chef info, “where to buy” ingredients and video clips. I figured I would wake up this morning and finish writing about my “molecular gastronomy class” and then add recipes and photos from the fun day.
Then I noticed there was a comment pending and was shocked to see it was from Hervé This, the French scientist recognized as THE FATHER of “molecular gastronomy”. Woa.
My reply to his email:
Dear Mr. This,
First of all, I am very honored that you took the time to write me, and I thank you for your forthright comment. “Molecular Cooking” (as I will now call it) is an exciting new world to me and I appreciate you taking the time to correct me.
I have added a video link to the “Gourmet’s Diary of Foodie” episode featuring your discussion on molecular gastronomy, and have also renamed my original post, “Adventures in Molecular Cooking”.
With much respect and sincerity,
Hervé This Discusses Molecular Gastronomy
About the Class: Name: Molecular Gastronomy
Format: Hands On
Date: Sunday, November 30, 2008 Instructor: Chef Michael Young
Location: Sur la Table, Los Angeles
From the class outline: “Herve This, and Ferran Adria are at the forefront of the move in the culinary world towards food manipulation. Come join a talented Chef in learning how to make pastaless Raviolis, and many other foods based on the theories and principals of Molecular Gastronomy. Or come to learn the different food chemicals, and how to use these items to blow your mind. You will participate in the making of all items.”
The class began with Chef Michael Young explaining the basics of Molecular Gastronomy, and asked if any of the sixteen students present were familiar with Chef Ferran Adria and his el Bulli restaurant. As we all shook our heads “yes”, Chef Young pointed us to the monitors above the kitchen. The dvd playing was one of my favorite Anthony Bourdain segments, called “Decoding Ferran Adria”. It’s a detailed behind the scenes look at the el Bulli taller (labratory) and el Bulli restaurant. I’ve watched my own copy of dvd at least twenty times over the years.
As Chef Young continued talking about molecular gastronomy, he noted that Hervé This (whom Chef Young had met before) was first and foremost a scientist, NOT a chef, and that the experiments we were using in the class were first made famous by This, and adopted by Ferran Adria for use at el Bulli.
One of the recipes featured on the dvd was called the “Pea Ravioli”, also known as the “Spherical Ravioli”. Ferran & Albert Adria chose the name “because the sensation in the mouth was precisely that of a liquid ravioli”. I’d been dreaming of this one-bite dollop for years and was so excited it we’d be making it today.
The class menu:
Ferran Adria’s Pea “Ravioli” with Black Truffle Oil.
Olive Oil Poached Halibut with Porcini Mushroom Foam.
Beef and Jicama Sashimi with Tarragon Emulsion.
Haricot Vert with Seared Duck Breast and Pineapple Caviar
My nephew Cody and I wanted to make the Pea Ravioli, and Peter (my husband) chose the Candied Apples. “Team Ravioli” included myself, Cody and a very nice mother and son duo from Alabama. Peter joined another couple in making up “Team Apple”.
Note: We (Cody, myself and Peter) didn’t work on any of the other recipes (duck, halibut or beef) so I will only discuss the two we focused on during the class (the pea ravioli and candied apples).
Before we started working on the individual recipes our instructor, Chef Michael, invited us up to the main prep counter to watch him make “Pineapple Caviar”
9 oz. Pineapple Juice
1g Sodium Alginate
18 oz. Water
3g Calicum Chloride
1. Mix the sodium alginate with 1/2 of the pineapple juice and blend till completely dissolved.
2. Mix in remaining juice, straining and allow to sit to remove any air bubbles.
3. Dissolve the calcium chloride in the water.
4. Fill syringe or a squeeze bottle with the juice mixture.
5. Softly expel mixture into calcium chloride bath drop by drop.
6. After a minute, remove gently with a tea strainer and rinse gently in cold water.
They were delicious little balls of pineapple fruit “caviar” and it was fun to see how easy this molecular cooking was going to be… or so I thought.
Recipe for “Pea Ravioli”
For the “pea soup”:
10 oz. frozen peas
10 oz. water
2 springs chive
For the “ravioli”:
5 grams food grade Sodium Alginate
For the calcium bath:
50 oz. cold water
.4 oz. calcium chloride
Truffle oil & Sea Salt (to top at end)
1. In a shallow baking dish, combine water and calcium chloride. Whisk until calcium chloride is dissolved, then store in the fridge to chill.
2. Blanch frozen peas in salted, boiling water, then shock immediately in ice water for several minutes. Drain.
3. Using an immersion blender, rain the sodium alginate into the cold water, until fully dissolved. The water will thicken considerably. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. When cooled, blend with peas, add chives and mix until the mixture is smooth.
5. Remove chilled calcium chloride mixture from the fridge. Scoop pea mixture into a tablespoon measure in the shape of a half-sphere. Set the bottom of the tablespoon measure against the surface of the calcium chloride mixture, then pour the mixture in the calcium bath. Leave ravioli in the calcium chloride mixture for two minutes.
6. Gently remove the ravioli from the calcium chloride bath using fingers or a slotted spoon. Place in a shallow bowl filled with cool water, to rinse calcium off the ravioli sphere.
7. Top with a few drops of truffle oil and sea salt. Serve immediately.
After reading the “Pea Ravioli” recipe, my nephew Cody and I took charge and started working. First weighing the calcium chloride on a digital scale (which took us a few minutes to figure out!), then on to blanching the peas. The kitchen was VERY crowded with sixteen students plus a staff of three all trying to maneuver equipment and burner space, but it was FUN.
After we mixed and chilled the calcium and shocked the peas, Cody grabbed an immersion blender and went to work on the sodium alginate. He brought it to a boil over high heat and then allowed it to cool.
The next step was blending the sodium alginate with the peas, and at that point we realized that the other members of “team ravioli” had only been watching. Unlike myself and Cody, the sweet “Alabama” mom and son duo were sort of unsure and afraid to jump in and get dirty.
So we motioned them to come over and they blended the pea mixture with the sodium alginate. And that’s where things sort of took a wrong turn. It wasn’t mixed enough. The pea mixture was supposed to be SMOOTH… silky smooth. Cody and I both knew that because we had watched the el Bulli video. But OUR pea ravioli mixture was well… a little lumpy! Alabama insisted that it was mixed enough and since it was a “team” recipe effort (and I didn’t want to get into an argument), we moved on to the next step.
We transferred the chilled calcium chloride from the fridge to our work table and scooped out tablespoon size balls from the bowl of peas & alginate.
It really was too thick… but as we maneuvered the pea mix into the calcium bath, they instantly firmed up and turned into “balls”. Thick, lumpy balls (most with little tadpole-like tails) but they held together!
We all took turns making the pea ravioli…. each trying to get the spoon out WITHOUT creating a tail on the ball. Students from other groups came over and gave it a try.
Next we drained each ball in fresh water, then Cody and I got busy plating them up on a square platter. We drizzled a few drops of truffle olive oil on each, then topped with crunchy sea salt.
How did they taste? They were delightful! Firm on the outside, sweet and creamy on the inside, and of course the truffle oil and sea salt added extra flavor and texture.
Our Pea Ravioli spheres were definitely NOT perfect, and honestly it was PERFECTLY fine with me. How else would we learn if our recipes came out flawless the first time?
Recipe for “Pomme d’Amour” (Michel Richard’s Candied Apples):
1 pound sugar
2 teaspoons citric acid
4 oz. glucose
1 teaspoon red food coloring
3 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into 9 1-inch balls
Crushed corn nuts for garnish
1. For the candied apples: In a medium saucepan bring sugar, citric acid, glucose and food coloring to 310 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove from heat. Insert toothpics into apples and immediately dip into candy. Place apples on bed of crushed corn nuts.
My husband Peter said he had a great time making the Candied Apples, especially because we are big fans of Michel Richard. They were bite-size, sweet and crunchy from the corn nuts.
The three of us throughly enjoyed the afternoon class, although I wished we had a few more hours to play! Chef Young was super friendly, helpful and I’ll be the first to sign up when he teaches another “Molecular Gastronomy/Cooking” class!
“One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.”
Author Laurie Colwin