Tag Archives: critic

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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18 Comments

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

Jitlada

My husband Peter had “Good Friday” off last week and we did something we RARELY ever do together… we decided to go out to lunch.

Peter almost never takes lunch at work because he feels like it’s a waste of time (classic workaholic), unless it’s a business meeting of course. Not eating during the day, ensures that he comes home hungry for dinner, which means he ALWAYS likes what I make. The truth is, I can get a little cranky when he doesn’t love my cooking, so this “no lunch at the office” system works well for both of us.

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.comJitlada Thai Restaurant has been on our “to do” list since last summer, when I first read about it in the July issue of Gourmet magazine. It’s a favorite spot of our friend Jeffrey, who has eaten at even the best Thai restaurants in Thailand. We hoped we could get Jeffrey to join us for lunch, but he couldn’t make it.

I also emailed my food blogger pal, SinoSoul. He loves Jitlada so much that he hosts dinners there, gathering food lovers to experience the authentic, Southern Thai (meaning extremely SPICY) dishes together. He’s invited me to an upcoming Jitlada dinner, but when I read about the extremely painful aftermath of the last gathering, I feared that I may not be able to take the heat.

SinoSoul wrote:
How does previous night’s dinner make you late to work the next morning? When you must explode with something fancy in the toilet. But hot damn the Southern Thai food was good on the way in.

I then clicked on a few other Jitlada blog links and thought FoodMarathon’s was particularly alarming:
I woke up this morning with a black tongue and my stomach precariously balanced between the volatile states of seizure and bleeding.

My apologies if the above offended you, but it’s the reason that I recently became a tiny bit fearful of Jitlada. I LOVE spicy food and can take it pretty, darn hot. Jalapeños are like cucumbers to me, and I add whole habañeros (seeds and all) to my eggs for breakfast. But I’ve never felt like I needed to visit the emergency room the next morning. Obviously Jitlada is a whole new, fiery experience.

So before I attend SinoSoul’s upcoming dinner, I hoped to at least get to Jitlada for lunch, and take sort of a test run. Good Friday turned out to be the perfect opportunity for Peter and I to try it together. SinoSoul wasn’t able to join us for lunch either, but thankfully he did email a list of dishes we should try. The menu is extensive and can seem very confusing if it’s your first visit, so it’s imperative that you do your research before you go.

Peter and I arrived a few minutes before they opened for lunch and were greeted by the lovely and charming, Sugar. She sat us in the second dining room next to the window and quickly took our drink order. I think she was a little shocked that we ordered Singa beer before noon… but heck, it was a holiday after all!

The menu was incredible and we would have been so LOST if SinoSoul hadn’t sent a list. When Sugar came to deliver our beers, she introduced us to her father Tui Sungkamee, who also happens to be the chef. We chatted for awhile then I handed them the printed list of items we would be ordering. It was fun to watch them carefully go over the dishes we wanted… Chef Tui double-checking the English-to-Thai translation with his daughter.

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.comOur lunch was OUTSTANDING, and if you haven’t been to Jitlada Thai yet (or lately), you should make the time to go now. We didn’t ask for extra spice on any of the dishes, but most carried a substantial amount of heat. Nothing painful though, just a wonderful, warm, and incredibly flavorful rush. I knew that I could take it much, much hotter, so I felt a great sense of relief.

I’m really looking forward to SinoSoul’s Jitlada dinner now. First of all, he’s promised that he won’t intentionally try to scorch my palate, and second of all… I’m certain that I’ll have chef Tui and sweet Sugar watching over me. With over 300 items available (they don’t all fit on the menu), you can bet I’ll be returning again and again!

What we ate (and loved):

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Kung Phae Chup Khreuang Thawt : Deep-fried Shrimp with Crispy Tea Leaves

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Sup Hang Wua : Mild, Southern Thai-style Oxtail Soup

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Kaeng Hawy Bai Cha-Phluu : Spicy, Turmeric-seasoned Curry with Baby Clam and Wild Tea Leaves

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Fish ball Stuffed with Salted Duck Egg in Green Curry.

Note: I mistakenly labeled above photo “Curry w/ Baby Clam & Wild Tea Leaves” on Foodgawker.

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Coconut Mango Salad (recommended by Sugar)

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Obey the sign! It’s SO WORTH IT!

All my favorite Jitlada dishes (so far) on Flickr

Jitlada
5233 1/2 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 663-3104
Website

Dining Date: 4/10/09

Mentioned Above:

Peter

SinoSoul

Gourmet Magazine

Jitlada article excerpt from Gourmet:
“Then, in 2006, the restaurant changed hands again. The new owners were Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong and her brother Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee, two of 12 siblings from the ancient province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, in southern Thailand, near the Malaysian border—also the home province, coincidentally, of Jitlada’s previous owners. Singsanong, the first of her family to immigrate to the U.S.—she arrived in 1979 with the proverbial (as she says) “two hundred dollars and one suitcase”—had studied hotel management in Bangkok. She enrolled at L.A. City College to learn English and found part-time jobs in local restaurants before landing a job at the Biltmore Hotel. Little by little, she brought her family over, and she and Tui, who owned four restaurants in Thailand, began working with another brother, John, at a Thai restaurant in Westwood called Emporium, which is still in business. “We couldn’t really do authentic home cooking there,” says Singsanong, “because our customers didn’t like things too spicy.” Her dream was to have a restaurant that could and that would offer Tui a showcase for his talents. When Jitlada became available, they took it over.” Full Article
here

Jitlada’s Dynamite Challenge

More Links:

L.A. Times Review of Jitlada

Jonathan Gold

Food Marathon

13 Comments

Filed under Eating Out

Charlie’s, Malibu

THIS RESTAURANT IS UNFORTUNATELY CLOSED.

I’m always dragging my friend Laur with me to try out new restaurants. From casual gastropubs up the street like Laurel Tavern, to “modern (molecular) cooking” at The Bazaar across town. She’s always up for a new dining adventure no matter where we go.

When she invited me to dinner at a new place in Malibu last month, I thought to myself, “Seriously, does anyone DRIVE to Malibu just for dinner?” I wondered if trying to get there during rush hour would be worth all the trouble.

If you live in Los Angeles, you understand the hell that is our freeway system, especially during the work week. Sometimes it can take hours to crawl across the 405 freeway, and even shortcuts are clogged with hungry diners trying to make that 7 or 8pm dinner reservation.

It wasn’t just the thought of midweek traffic that bothered me: it was also the general consensus (I think) that Malibu proper is for locals only. I’ve lived in Studio City for fifteen years now, and I can remember driving to Malibu only once for an actual dinner. It was an intimate gathering at some restaurant (can’t remember which one) for a friend’s 40th birthday party. 

Family Beach Vacations, MyLastBite.comDon’t get me wrong, I LOVE the beach. I lived in Pacific Beach (San Diego) for ten years before marrying Peter, and totally embraced the casual lifestyle of a beach community. Over the years, Peter and I rented a beach house in Newport (near Balboa Island) several times, and invited our families for fun, group vacations. Luckily, we also have friends that own a beach house steps from Hollywood Beach in Oxnard, and they let us use it whenever. By the way, the BEST breakfast in the world is nearby at a place called “Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut”.

Those three SoCal beaches I’m most familiar with (Pacific Beach, Newport Beach and Hollywood Beach) are all very laid-back: and growing up, they really never sounded as glamorous as Malibu. I don’t recall Mattel making a “Newport Beach Barbie” that’s for sure. “Malibu Barbie” was, and is still (in my opinion), the best Barbie doll ever. I still have mine tucked away, although her “self-tan” is now blotchy and streaky.

In the early sixties, Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda epitomized the casual (yet still glamorous) Malibu lifestyle that I fantasize about visiting. Photos of them at their Malibu bungalow are included in a book by Dennis Hopper called, “1712 North Crescent Heights”. It’s one of my favorites: a large, black and white coffee table book filled with photos he took around Los Angeles, before he filmed “Easy Rider”. Another favorite shot in the book is of Peter Fonda jamming on an acoustic guitar. He’s just sitting on a large piece of driftwood in the sand, looking cool, but I guess everyone looked cool hanging out at the “Colony” back then. It always makes me laugh when celebrities reminisce about living in the “Colony”, they never say “Malibu Colony”, it’s usually just “The Colony”, as if no other “Colony” would matter in their world anyway.

From Wikipedia: Malibu Colony was one of the first areas inhabited after Malibu was opened to the public in 1929 and it is one of Malibu’s most famous districts. It is located along Malibu Road, westward of the Pacific Coast Highway, on the opposite shore of the Malibu Lagoon State Beach and adjacent to the Malibu Bluffs Park. Long known as a popular private enclave for wealthy celebrities, the Malibu Colony today is a gated community, with multi-million dollar homes on small lots. 

Life in Malibu, MyLastBite.com

The new Malibu spot my friend Laur wanted me to try is called “Charlie’s”, a steak and seafood restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway (in the former Allegria space). Peter decided to join us for dinner, so we headed out to Malibu on an early Thursday evening. I was surprised the drive from Studio City only took about an hour. Guess what? Malibu’s not that far away after all! What was I thinking?

Charlie's Restaurant, MalibuFrom photos I saw online (before I went), Charlie’s looked like a large space, but in reality it’s more like an elegant bistro than a classic steak house. The decor is very stylish (leopard print chairs by Dolce & Gabbana) but easygoing at the same time. I’d be comfortable there wearing a cocktail dress and heels or a little sundress with sandals. 

The three of us were seated in a beautiful booth with a panoramic view of the restaurant. And I must say, as we sat there looking over the menu and sipping our wine (Fess Parker Syrah), we were as comfortable as any local would be. And looking up from the table was the most beautiful hand-blown glass chandelier. It really gave the room (and us!) a nice glow. We felt great and heck, because of the gorgeous lighting, we looked great too!

Our server Amy was terrific and patiently went through the menu with us. Laur had been to the restaurant several times before, and always ordered the Braised Beef Short Ribs. I was in the mood for pasta and went for the Spaghetti Bolognese (made with veal). Peter went for the manly-named Greg Norman Premium T-Bone.

We pretty much shared the six dishes we ordered, including green mussels, crab cakes and a refreshing, roasted beet salad (no photo). I have to say that Laur was right about the short ribs. My pasta was delicious; hearty, savory and perfectly cooked, but next time I’ll be having my own plate of those killer short ribs (and not sharing either!)

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
New Zealand Green Mussels Meuniere in lemon, garlic and white wine, $12.
A wonderful, aromatic way to begin dinner by the sea. Delicious, with plenty of broth left over to soak up with bread.

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
Crab Cakes with Bell Pepper and Sweet Corn Compote, $14. Gone in Sixty Seconds, so good we almost ordered another plate.

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
Greg Norman Premium T-Bone (organic signature selection),$42 with an order of Crispy Sage on the side, $4. I wasn’t sure about this “sauce on the side” idea at first. I’m sort of from the school of “eat what the chef has thoughtfully prepared for you”, but honestly, it’s a great way to customize that already gorgeous piece of meat! 

Steak Sauces to select from ($4 each) are:
Crispy Sage
House Barbecue,
Course Grain Mustard
Bourbon Peppercorn
Creamy Porcini Muchroom
Roasted Garlic Demi-Glace
Classic Bearnaise
Port wine with Walnuts & Stilton Cheese

Fried Sage, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Sage, $4. I swear these were cooked in ghee (clarified butter). They were so good, the three of us ate them like potato chips!

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
Classic Roasted Veal Spaghetti Bolognese, $18. I was SO ready for this bowl of comforting goodness, and it did NOT disappoint.

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.com
Braised Beef Short Ribs, Truffle Demi-Glace Drizzle, $26. My favorite dish of the night. No knife required (or teeth for that matter). Slow-braised and quickly eaten by the three of us!

Charlie's Restaurant, Malibu. MyLastBite.comCharlie’s
22821 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 456-3132 

Executive Chef Eleano Camboni

http://www.charliesmalibu.com/

Dining Date: 3/26/09


Mentioned Above:

1712 N. Crescent Heights by Dennis Hopper

Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut

Malibu Barbie

Celebrities, Malibu Colony

Wikipedia – Malibu Colony

Laur & Peter

Fess Parker Wines

The Bazaar

Charlie's on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out

Gjelina

I was in no rush to dine at Gjelina (pronounced “jelina”) when it opened last summer, adding it to my lengthy list of “places to eat”.

To be honest, I just didn’t care about ANOTHER pizzeria opening, so I pretty much just forgot about it. Then I read Patrick Kuh’s review in Los Angeles Magazine (Feb 2009 issue).

Gruyere Arugula Pizza, MyLastBite.comKuh wrote:
The cooking of Travis Lett is the main draw… only 30 years old, he has developed a remarkably sustained culinary style…

That sparked my interest a little because I love supporting our local up-and-coming chefs.

Then I read: 
Back when he was starting out, Lett had an epiphany while eating a meal at Mario Batali’s breakout restaurant, Babbo, shortly after it opened in Greenwich Village. “It wasn’t one thing they did. It was how they did everything,” he recalls of the food’s exacting forthrightness.

With Mario Batali, MyLastBite.comOne of my best dining experiences ever was at BABBO restaurant in New York. Peter and I had dinner there in October 2005, and we still talk about the amazing Bucatini all’Amatriciana. To this day, we’ve never tasted a better pasta dish and Mario Batali is a culinary king in our home. I’ve learned so much about Italian cooking AND culture from his old series, “Molto Mario” and it’s a shame he doesn’t “teach” on television anymore. If Gjelina’s chef was pulling inspiration from BABBO and Batali, then it could only mean good things for the restaurant.

Patrick Kuh ended his review with the following:
Certain restaurant openings are cautious, some careless, and some overproduced. Then there are those that sing. Gjelina is one of them. It has the snap of originality, a little strut. It knows it’s good. It captures a neighborhood.

At this point I opened my “places to eat” list and moved Gjelina up near the top. When our friends Kevin and Tamara (both oenophiles) wanted to meet for brunch in Venice recently, of course it had to be at Gjelina. They brought along a gorgeous bottle of Williams Selyem 2005 Chardonnay, which was a refreshing and crisp companion to our delicious brunch of pizzas, salads and sides.

Niman Ranch Bacon, MyLastBite.com
Niman Ranch Bacon $5. Is there any better way to start off a brunch?

Spinach Salad, MyLastBite.com
Heirloom Spinach Salad with Tomato, Olive, Feta, Pinenuts and Croutons $9. This was devoured within minutes of hitting our table. The large crouton pieces were a terrific crunch mixed with the super fresh vegetables. 

Guanciale Pizza, MyLastBite.com
Guanciale Pizza with Crushed Olive, Fresno Chili, Buffalo Mozzarella & Rosemary, $15
I LOVE guanciale, it’s my favorite type of bacon (the pig’s jowel) which is extra fatty. Notice how THIN the pizza crust is in the upper left of the photo. All the flavors were baked into (and almost through) the crust. I love thin-crust pizza so this wafer-thin heater was my kind of pie (or maybe I should say “cracker bread”!).

Chickpeas & Truffle Potatoes, MyLastBite.com
Two more sides we enjoyed:
Chickpea Stew with Greens, Cous Cous, Spiced Yogurt and Harissa, $12. It was more like a belly-warming soup than a stew and I found myself craving it when I had a cold last week.
Crispy Fingerling Potatoes with Truffle Oil, Herbs and Parmesan, $5. Perfectly crispy on the outside with just a hint of truffle oil.

Gruyere Arugula Pizza, MyLastBite.com
Gruyere, Arugula Pizza topped with Caramelized Onion, Fromage Blanc Pizza and Sunny Eggs, $18. This pizza came after the Guanicale, and we all decided that this one was our favorite. Again, the toppings were almost baked through the thin crust and the runny eggs on top added a creamy-like richness.

View from our table, MyLastBite.com
In the relaxing, sunny back patio area, the view from my seat.

Butterscotch Pot de Creme, MyLastBite.com
Butterscotch pot de creme. Very similar to Mozza’s Butterscotch Budino, (except you don’t get the rosemary cookie here). Gjelina’s version was rich enough that we were happy sharing one together.

Blackberry Crisp, MyLastBite.com
Blackberry and Cornmeal Crisp. I only had one bite (too full!) but my husband said he loved the tartness and crunch.

Beautiful Fixture & Wall, MyLastBite.com
I loved the decor, especially the chocolate brown wall, with what looked like “tooled leather” engravings. The light fixtures were also fun and funky throughout.

Gjelina, MyLastBite.com
From top left: Lighting above bar, Back patio, Vintage glass, Wine bottle chandelier.

I can’t wait to go back!

The L.A. Times writes: Though they’re only a small part of the menu, the pizzas at Gjelina in Venice keep getting better. Six months in, chef-owner Travis Lett has his pizza mojo down. His pies have a graceful aesthetic, beautiful to look at, even better to eat, and farmers market all the way. Like the seductive vegetable dishes here from the wood-burning oven, the eight pizzas on offer shift with the seasons. A pie blanketed in Fontina cheese and bitter greens accented with bacon lardons or one that melds Taleggio cheese with dusky wild mushrooms and pea shoots may give way to a pizza topped with sweet porky guanciale, crushed olives and bufala mozzarella. The crust is very thin, very crisp. Pizza is such a popular item, though, you may have to wait for yours: The oven is only big enough to cook four pies at a time.  Full Article Here

Gjelina
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 450-1429
(no website as of this writing) 
Dining Date: 3/7/09 

Mentioned Above:

LA Magazine Gjelina Review by Patrick Kuh

BABBO

Mario Batali

Molto Mario

Williams Selyem Chardonnay

Niman Ranch

Gjelina on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out

Frank Bruni Loves The Bazaar Too

If you’re a regular visitor to MyLastBite (thank you), you know that I’ve been writing about my amazing dinners at the Bazaar. Ever since the restaurant opened (on 11/17/08), I’ve enjoyed taking photos of every dish I’ve tried and have fun sharing them with the blogisphere. 

This morning I read the New York Times review of the Bazaar, and am happy to write that restaurant critic Frank Bruni loves it too! A few quotes from his review:

“The Bazaar is an important and exciting restaurant…”

“I interspersed flights of fancy like the ‘not your everyday Caprese’ salad — in which the mozzarella appears in delicate, ready-to-burst spheres like the olive bombs…”

“The Bazaar gives you an easy way into experimental cooking, and it lets you off easy, too. You can drop in, let an olive explode, breathe like a dragon and be on your way.”

The thing is, when Frank Bruni writes… not only do we readers on the internet take notice… the whole WORLD takes notice.

Congrats José, William, Marcel, Mike and the entire Bazaar crew!

Read the full review here.

With Jose Andres, MyLastBite.com

My dinners at the Bazaar (with photos):

Bazaar visit #1

Bazaar visit #2

Bazaar Visit #3

Bazaar visit #4

Posting photos soon of visits 5 & 6.

My Bazaar food photos on Flickr

The Bazaar by José Andrés
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
310-246-5555
thebazaar.com)

 

2 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

Riva Restaurant

On those very rare occasions when Peter and I have pizza delivered, we either argue over the type of crust to get, or simply order separate pizzas. Peter likes classic “hand-tossed” crust and I prefer a thin crust because it’s less filling, and I admit…. I just care more about the toppings.

When Pizzeria Mozza opened a couple of years ago, we finally found that one pizza that we could agree on and actually enjoy together. Nancy Silverton’s pizza crusts are thick enough on the outside for Peter, yet thin enough on the inside so I don’t feel overwhelmed by dough.

We first went to Pizzeria Mozza on Christmas Eve in 2006, and have tried every pizza on the menu since then. Mozza’s “Gorgonzola, Fingerling Potato and Rosemary” is the one we return to again and again. It’s a real shame they don’t deliver.

Riva, MyLastBite.comLast friday we were invited to dinner by Peter’s friends, Barbara and John. They were in town, from Seattle, looking at colleges with their two teenage kids, Corey and Claire. Peter asked me to make a dinner reservation in Santa Monica (near their hotel) so I decided on Riva restaurant. We hadn’t been to Jason Travi’s Italian eatery yet, so after I made the reservation I started researching the menu online.

The L.A. Times noted that Riva’s menu “plays off the cuisine of the Italian Riviera” and serves delicious crudo (Italian style “sashimi”). I was surprised to read that they don’t serve pasta, but Riva does specialize in pizza. I found several good reviews about the pork lovers pizza called “Molto Maiale”, but it’s when I started reading about the “Patate Semplice” pizza that I began feeling well…. a little guilty. It’s made with potato, rosemary, fontina and sea salt, which sounded very similar to our favorite pizza at Mozza. Should we even try Riva’s potato pizza, or would it be like cheating on Nancy? It took almost fifteen years of “crust fighting” to find a pizza that my husband I both love, so maybe it was best not to test fate by bringing in a new player.

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s JUST PIZZA… GET OVER IT”.

Well, we did… and both of us absolutely loved the Riva potato pizza. To me, the crust seemed a little lighter than Mozza’s version, and the topping was almost custard-like underneath the potato. It was velvety rich and so cheesy that I had to eat it with a fork.

The other pizza we ordered was (of course) the “Molto Maiale” which was topped with sausage, meatballs, pancetta and bacon. After a few bites, we were all in pig heaven.

The L.A. times said it best: “While Pizzeria Mozza still rules, Riva is closing in, and here at least you can get a reservation”.

What we ate:

Riva, MyLastBite.comPatate Semplice Pizza (potato, rosemary, fontina, sea salt) $14

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Molto Maile Pizza (Sausage, Bacon, Meatballs, Pancetta, Caramelized Onion, Tomato) $17

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Molto Maile Pizza (Sausage, Bacon, Meatballs, Panceetta, Caramelized Onion, Tomato) $17

Riva, MyLastBite.com
 Crudo: DELICIOUS cured belly of ocean trout with house made mustard. $9

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Chef Jason Travi

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Chef at the pizza oven

Pastry Chef Miho Travi is a dessert goddess…

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Torta Della Nonna (grandma’s cake) served with roasted pears, caramel ice cream $10

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Ricotta Fritters served with catalan cream foam $9

Riva, MyLastBite.com
Sorbetti e Gelati Trio $8

More photos on Flickr

Riva Restaurant
312 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica
(310) 451-7482
RivaRestaurantLA.com

Dining date: 3/6/09
Thanks Barbara and John, for a wonderful dinner at Riva!

Mentioned Above:
L.A. Times Review of Riva

Pizzeria Mozza

Nancy Silverton

At Mozza
Riva on Urbanspoon

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