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The official dates for the 2009 GOURMET INSTITUTE event in NYC.
SAVE THE DATES: October 23-25, 2009.
Peter and I had a great time when we went, especially mingling with the likes of Eric Ripert and the great Mario Batali!
Check out the promo video from last year. I was totally surprised to see myself and Peter featured on the video! Actually, him more than me… I’m standing behind him (tipsy from wine tasting!) when he’s speaking on camera.
I’m definitely going again this year!
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!
The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
Dining date: 4/26/09
Finally, Domenico Ristorante in Silver Lake is open!
I first met the restaurant’s executive chef last December, when I attended a molecular gastronomy class he taught at Sur la Table (at the Grove). Chef Michael Young spoke about his passion for Italian cooking, but the various classes I took from him were mostly about making groovy foams and far-out spherifications. I was really looking forward to trying his authentic, Italian FOOD, not just the modern recipes we made together in class. And finally, five months later, I got my first taste.
After making the reservation for Saturday night, I suddenly felt a little nervous. What if, by chance, I didn’t like Chef Young’s cooking? Just because I thought he was a great instructor and could make perfect fruit “caviar”, didn’t automatically mean that he’d be a great chef too.
The motto for my blog is: “If I like it, I share it… If I don’t, I don’t!”. Which means, if I don’t like something I’ve tasted on a restaurant’s menu, then I simply don’t write about that particular dish. Someone once told me that I’m “doing a disservice to the public” if I only write about positive experiences, but that’s just who I am, and I want my site to reflect that. I feel so grateful that I get to eat at all these wonderful places, and my favorite part (besides the actual eating) is sharing all the tasty photos. Plus, I figure with so many bloggers writing about the same restaurants in Los Angeles, it’s easy to figure out what dishes NOT to order.
We had a 7pm reservation on Saturday night, but Peter and I arrived early so I could take a few photos of the restaurant exterior. Our friends Julian and Wendy joined us a few minutes later, and soon we were nibbling on fried olives and sipping glasses of luscious primitivo wine. The restaurant doesn’t have a liquor licence yet, but you can bring in your own wine with no cover charge (for the time being).
A Mano primitivo wine is our favorite Italian red, and we first learned about it from the great Mario Batali himself. He recommended it during a seminar we went to in New York, and it’s been a staple in our home ever since. Not only is it deliciously robust (think zinfandel), but at $10 a bottle we can afford to drink it all the time.
Looking over the menu, I wasn’t sure what to order at first. Domenico Ristorante is so new that I found barely a “yelp” online. One thing I did read about was the “wild boar ragu” so I definitely wanted to try that, but overall I felt lost without my regular “must order” list for the evening. Peter was in worse shape than me, since he never even looks at a menu when we go out. I’ve usually selected what we’re sharing ahead of time, and he actually likes not having the pressure of deciding.
The restaurant’s owner, Domenico Frasca, must have noticed we were a bit perplexed, and asked, “would you like the chef to select dishes for you”? The four of us giggled with anticipation as we handed over the menus. We spent the next three hours happily working our way through Prosciutto Riserva, Fried Parmesan with Balsamic, Crudo of Scottish Halibut, Risotto with Winter Truffle, Rootbeer-braised Kobe Beef, the Wild Boar Ragu and more!
Dinner wasn’t just “great”, the entire evening was exceptional: From the sexy decor (white, leather banquets), to the gorgeous waiters (I only remember Paolo’s name because he wrote it down along with the name of a pasta), to the friendly and cordial Domenico himself. Of course, it’s Chef Michael Young’s cooking that will have me coming back for more, and you can bet I’ll be trying each and every positively delicious bite on the menu!
1637 Silver Lake Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026
Sur la Table Classes (locations & calendar)
Chef Walter Manzke’s smile is infectious. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t say “infectious” since we’re in the middle of the H1N1 Flu scare (I refuse to call it the OTHER name because I love my bacon).
On my first visit to Church and State, I didn’t get to meet the chef until evening’s end, when I stole a few seconds of his time to tell him how much Peter and I enjoyed the restaurant. During our entire dinner though, from across the room, I was carefully watching him as he expedited orders and finished off each plate in the open kitchen.
Between bites of the luxurious beef short-rib bordelaise and the perfectly baked (and cute) tiny ramekins of escargot, I would look over and see Chef Manzke’s face beaming. It’s almost like I could feel his joy drifting through the kitchen, then up above the beautiful, antiquated string of lights, and finally, smack down onto my plate.
Delicious food always makes me happy, but seeing chef Manzke’s ear-to-ear grin in the kitchen definitely made me more aware of the joy and care he (and his crew) puts into each dish.
I love everything about this restaurant; the exterior, interior, the decor. It resides in a beautiful, old brick building that used to be the loading dock for the Nabisco Biscuit Company, and the downtown location makes me feel like I’m in New York City, or at least “New York Street” at Universal Studios. I was shocked how nearby it was as well: Door to door (with no traffic), it’s only fifteen minutes from our home in Studio City.
The bistro is casual enough for jeans and charming enough for a little, black dress. But personally, it makes me feel like dressing up in a boho-chic skirt, over-sized hoop earrings and chunky, cork platforms (something I imagine Ali MacGraw wore in the seventies, on fabulous trips to Paris).
The bar sits directly across from the kitchen, and we were seated near the large, front windows on our first two visits, with perfect views of both. There’s an antique absinthe dispenser on the bar counter which reminded me of the vintage absinthe spoons I started collecting back in 2001, when Peter worked on the marketing campaign for “Moulin Rouge!”
I think Toulouse-Lautrec himself would have loved one of the small tables along the cool, brick wall along the back. And just because I want to try a different view of the gorgeous room, that’s where you’ll find me on my next visit. Just look for the platform shoes and over-sized hoop earrings.
Steak Frites: French fries, Sauce Béarnaise. Classic and DELICIOUS, we got the smaller “Petite Assiette” (small plate) size for $15 (full size, $25). Note: All the main dishes or “Plats Principaux” are offered in two sizes.
Apricot Tart, Pot de Crème au Chocolat, I loved the quenelle next to the chocolate (if I remember correctly, there were tiny delicious bits of toasted hazelnuts underneath), Apple Galette (I think), Croustade aux Fraises: Warm strawberry crips, vanilla ice cream.
I didn’t have the heart to tell the chef that I’m not really “into dessert” (one bite and I’m good). Luckily, Peter is INTO dessert, so even though we were full from dinner, we finished most of it!
Our perfect dinner was made even better by a chance meeting with Tasting Table’s Lesley Balla (former Eater LA editor). We’re “friends” on Twitter and Facebook, but it so was nice to say hello in person!
1850 Industrial St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Beef Short Rib Bordelaise that we had on our first visit