Tag Archives: food writer

New Blog Is In The Works!

Coming Soon. All New MyLastBite.com

Note: I post daily (@MyLastBite) on snapchat, instagram, twitter and facebook!

I@MyLastBite My Last Bite Food Travel Writer Blogger Jo Stougaard

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The Bellwether

My new favorite PORK dish.
Check out The Bellwether, in my L.A. Times scouting report!

The Bellwether Scouting Report//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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American Airlines New 1st Class Menu

Last week American Airlines (AA) invited me to an exclusive menu tasting in Texas. They have new, seasonal food and wine menus rolling out in July for selected Domestic and Transcontinental First Class Flights, as well as new snacks in their Flagship Lounges

Beef Filet, Lobster Mac & Cheese (domestic 1st class)The event took place at LSG Sky Chefs in Irving which is near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (AA HQ). Along with media were several of the airlines most loyal frequent flyers, who were on hand to share their input. The fun kicked off with a round of champagne as we listened to airline executives talk about improvements for the AA passenger experience.

I was surprised to see a familiar face as we began tasting food. Celebrity Chef Sam Choy was there showcasing his new transcontinental menu, which included spicy crab, steamed sea bass and wagyu meatloaf (photos below). AA wine consultant Ken Chase entertained all with his spirited presentation, and noted how important it is for wines to compliment the regions where AA travels (Malbec in Argentina for example), and that it also exposes passengers to new wines as well. His pro tip: To stay hydrated while flying, drink three glasses of water per one glass of wine.

I travel often, and when I visit my folks in Scotland I usually fly economy. American Airlines is a partner to British Airways, so at least one of my flights (either to or from London) are on AA. If I get the chance for an upgrade (it happens!), it’ll be interesting to experience it all with a new point of view. The majority of the dishes I tasted were fantastic and I’d happily order them in a restaurant. Only one seemed overly salty, which is normal (in food prep) when serving at 30,000 feet since “taste buds and sense of smell are the first thing to go”. I did mention it and was told they are still working on adjustments. 

As the only L.A.-based writer invited, I was asked to simply share the experience on social media, which I did on twitter, instagram and facebook. The new American Airlines campaign is called #GoingForGreat, and my main takeaway from the afternoon was a truly sincere effort by the AA team.

Photos:

American Airlines 1st Class Tasting
Menu

Peruvian Causa (S. America Flagship Lounge Snack)
Peruvian Causa with west coast Dungeness crab, ahi amarillo, basil and cilantro oil (South America Flagship Lounge Snack)

Mac & Cheese Fritter (N. America Flagship Lounge Snack)
Mac & Cheese Fritters (North America Flagship Lounge Snack)

Edamame Hummus (transcontinental 1st class)
Edamame Hummus w toasted garlic baguettes by Chef Sam Choy (Transcontinental 1st class)

Steamed Sea Bass (transcontinental 1st class)
Steamed Sea Bass with soy glaze and ginger cilantro pesto rice by Chef Sam Choy (Transcontinental 1st class)

Spicy Crab (transcontinental 1st class)
Spicy Crab w sushi rice, avocado and wasabi aioli by Chef Sam Choy (Transcontinental 1st class)

Wagyu Meatloaf (transcontinental 1st class)
Wagyu Meatloaf with sriracha ketchup, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and candied onions by Chef Sam Choy (Transcontinental 1st class)

Lentil Chili, Polenta Cake (domestic 1st class)
Vegetarian option: Lentil Chili, Polenta Cake (Domestic 1st class)

Shrimp & Grits (domestic 1st class)
Shrimp & Grits (Domestic 1st class)

Beef Filet, Lobster Mac & Cheese (domestic 1st class)
Beef Filet, Lobster Mac & Cheese (Domestic 1st class)

Beef Filet, Lobster Mac & Cheese (domestic 1st class)
This paired so well with the Malbec (Domestic 1st class)

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (domestic 1st class)
Salted Caramel Ice Cream (Domestic 1st class)

American Airlines 1st Class Tasting
Wine tasting

American Airlines 1st Class Tasting
American Airlines Wine Consultant Ken Chase

Chef Sam Choy!
Chef Sam Choy! We totally bonded over our love for Okinawa (my birthplace).

Thank you for having me American Airlines!

Event date was June 22, 2015. All photos here.

Round trip flights from Los Angeles to Dallas were provided by American Airlines.

I met some really nice folks at the event, including Benet Wilson and Jeanne Hoffman. Read Benet’s recap of the event Airways News. Jeanne blogs at Le Chic Geek.

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Josef Centeno Crawl

4th & Main Downtown L.A.Peter and I both love chef Josef Centeno‘s cooking. With four restaurants in downtown L.A., we often have a hard time deciding which one to eat at. There’s Baco Mercat (home of the bäco) and Bar Ama (with the best queso in town). High-end Orsa & Winston is currently offering a fantastic Yakitori-Ya menu (through March 2). Josef’s newest eatery, Ledlow, recently won a rave Jonathan Gold review. All the restaurants are within walking distance of each other at 4th and Main, and all are simply fantastic.

After twenty years together, it’s not easy to surprise my husband of 18 years. But for his birthday last month, with the help of Josef and his fiancee (my friend) Betty Hallock, we did just that. I joked to Betty that I wished I could take Peter to all of Josef’s restaurants for his birthday and she said they had actually been thinking of organizing a restaurant crawl.

I was thrilled when Josef offered to select the evening’s menu, which included two dishes and a drink at each location. To make things easier, since it was four different kitchens and staff, I paid for the evening ahead of time and left a tip at each (45 minute) stop. Many thanks to Betty and Josef for helping me surprise Peter!

Photos from our December 2014 “Centeno Crawl” below:

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
STOP 1: Bäco Mercat
Peter was shocked and so thrilled to find the first “Happy Birthday, Peter” menu waiting at our first stop, which was Baco Mercat.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
The Moxie Cocktail at Baco Mercat: Bourbon, cynar, lime juice, agave, mole bitters.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Caesar Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino, Anchovy, Garlic at Baco Mercat.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Hamachi Crudo, Avocado, Hash Brown, Abkhazian Chile Spice at Baco Mercat.

STOP 2: Orsa & Winston

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
The menu waiting at Orsa & Winston.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Breakfast In A Shell with Coddled Egg, Pancetta, maple syrup at Orsa and Winston.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Satsuki Rice with Parmesan Cream, Geoduck and Uni at Orsa & Winston.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Clos du Tue Boeuf Chenin Blanc at Orsa & Winston.

STOP 3: Bar Ama

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Peter’s birthday menu at Bar Ama (stop 3).

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
The Nacho Cocktail (tequila blanco, chile-lime shrub, campari, citrus, honey) at Bar Ama.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Slow Roasted Beef Belly with Pomegranate, Cotija and Tomatillo at Bar Ama.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
“Mom’s Green Enchiladas” with Tomatillo & Chicken at Bar Ama.

STOP 4: Ledlow

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Final stop for birthday cake & soufflé at Ledlow.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Grand Marnier Soufflé at Ledlow.

Peter's Birthday Crawl 2014
Pastry chef Margeaux Aragon made a birthday cake too! Chocolate Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting at Ledlow.

December 2015 Selfie
20 Years Together (we met in Nov 1994). Happiness Selfie (Dec 2014).

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Joan’s On Third, Studio City

Joan's On Third, L.A. Times

 

Read my opening report here

More photos

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EatingTheMenu.com

In March 2010 I decided I would try 300 dishes on Jitlada Thai Restaurant’s menu. Goal completed March 16, 2013!

My favorites dishes are on the “Spicy Southern Thai” pages and I usually invite friends to join me for lunch. Sometimes I just go alone and work in my “remote office“, but either way the focus is all about the amazing food.

Of course I’ll be taking photos of each plate during my delectable journey. Check for updates here at http://EatingTheMenu.com

Eating the Menu Jitlada Thai Cuisine
300 Dishes Completed! (updated 3/16/13)

Eating The Menu: Jitlada
(click above for more info on each dish)

3/30/10 I met the cutest couple today, who are WAY ahead of me on this quest. Jan & Ron from Glendale. They’ve tried over 100 dishes and eat at Jitlada every week as well! It was so nice to meet some fellow SUPER Jitlada Fans!!

9/10/10 With the help of friends (Julie, Ed, David & LeAnn), I passed 100 dishes today!  All photos here

More about Jitlada

Thanks Zach for sharing lunch with me!

Below are Completed

It took me twelve visits to the Bazaar, but I eventually ate every one of the 76+ dishes on the original two menus (a personal goal I set for myself). I’m so looking forward to the new spring menu, and will post updated photos here.

Eating the Menu – The Bazaar by José Andrés
Dishes Completed (All on menu, Year 1) – 76

Eating The Menu: Bazaar

More about The Bazaar by José Andrés

More Flickr “Eating the Menu” Groups Coming Soon
Animal
Dining Room
LudoBites
Marche’


In the spirit of “full disclosure”, I just want to note that I manage and update JitladaLA.com but do not receive any compensation from the restaurant. I do it because I love the incredible food so much (and wanted to help promote the restaurant), but mostly because I adore Jazz, Tui and their remarkable family.

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Drago Centro

My husband Peter and I finally made it downtown for dinner last Thursday. We keep meaning to spend more time in DTLA (DownTown LA), but it took “DineLA Restaurant Week” to get us to check out the sleek and sexy Drago Centro.

The special DineLA menu at the Italian hotspot offers three courses for $44, which is a great bargain (and very filling), but as usual we ordered some extras from the regular menu as well. The three of us (including our friend Laurieann) shared every dish, and now I can’t wait to go back and try the things I missed!

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.comIf you’re not familiar with Drago Centro, here’s what Jonathan Gold wrote about the restaurant in LA Weekly:
“Planted at the base of a formerly sterile office plaza, Centro may be the grandest new restaurant in this neighborhood since the early 1980s, a sprawling former bank space blown out into a double-height modernist dining room, punctuated in the middle by a glassed-in wine vault…”

I have to admit, sitting in the main dining room, near the enormous glass wine room was sort of powerfully intoxicating… but then again, it could have been the red wine and grappa!

All around it was a fun evening, especially spending time with sommelier Michael Shearin and our terrific server, Stefano. Make sure you ask for them if you plan on eating there soon (which you should)!

What we ate:

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
Amuse Bouche: Bocconcini with Pesto Mousse (compliments of the chef)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
La Pancetta Brasata: Pork Belly, Farro, Spinach, Blueberries (Regular Menu $14)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
La Burrata, Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Crostino (Regular Menu $13)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
Top: Antipasto Plate: Roasted peppers, Radicchio, Speck, Eggplant Puree, Burrata and Gnocco Fritto
Bottom: Garganelli, Veal Bolognese. (Both on DineLA Menu)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
Smoked Salmon, Cauliflower Panna Cotta, Fennel (on DineLA Menu)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
Braised Veal Cheeks, Endive, Parsnips, Almonds (on DineLA Menu)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
Pork Belly Risotto, Rapini, Radicchio (on DineLA Menu) and yes it’s true… we ordered TWO pork belly dishes (so GOOD!)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Chicken, Assorted Beans & Veg (on DineLA Menu)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
Desserts: Top Left: Mascarpone Semifreddo with Strawberries and Basil.
Bottom Left: Chocolate Coffee Cake, Vanilla Cream.
Right: Prosecco Mousse, Fennel Crumble, Citrus (All on DineLA Menu)

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
The custom-built glass wine vault.

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.com
Drago Centro’s private dining room with exhibition kitchen (in the former bank vault).

Drago Centro, MyLastBite.comDrago Centro
525 S. Flower St #120
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 228-8998
Website

Dining Date: 10/08/09

Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly

Follow Drago Centro on Twitter

Follow Michael Shearin, Sommelier on Twitter

Drago Central, Private Dining

DineLA Restaurant Week

Photo above right: Grappa flavored with Chamomile made by Marolo

Drago Centro on Urbanspoon

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N E W… Y O R K… T I M E S!!

WOW. MyLastBite in the New York Times

Wow!

A great big THANK YOU to Foodista for including me in the article! Thanks also to Kim Severson at the New York Times, and the awesome Axel Koester for all the lovely photos he took of me in my kitchen! That’s me (above, right) about to cook a tray of bacon-wrapped breadsticks in the N E W… Y O R K… T I M E S!!

I’ll post more pics from the photo-shoot soon.

Read the New York Times article here

Make Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks!

Kim Severson, New York Times

Photographer, Axel Koester

Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks on Foodista

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Filed under Little Bites, Recipes

XIV (now closed)

My first encounter with chef Michael Mina was during a birthday trip last January, for my niece and nephew, twins Kindal and Chace. Since they were about to officially become teenagers, I wanted to plan an extra special celebration dinner with Aunt Jo (that’s me) and Uncle Peter (my husband). Some sort of “grown up” place where we could get all dressed up and use every piece of fine silver on the table.

I’m extremely close with my sister’s kids, and would go to the ends of the world for them, but for their thirteenth birthday, I decided we would fly to San Francisco, and dine at Michelin-starred Michael Mina (the chef’s flagship restaurant). 

Dinner was, of course, incredible, and the fact that chef Mina was in the house that night made it even more special. He oversees multiple restaurants from California to Florida, so we were happily shocked when he stopped by our table for a birthday photo.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.comMichael Mina’s XIV (“Fourteen”) in Hollywood is much closer to home of course, and we surely would have had the same dinner experience as we did in San Francisco, but I sort of felt like we (especially me) had to dine at Mina’s original outpost first.

Finally, last week I had my first full dinner at XIV (I previously enjoyed a few bites at the bar).

My nephew Cody (the twin’s older brother) is dating one of the sweetest, caring and downright gorgeous girls in all of L.A. That’s a bold statement I know, but Jade’s warmth and down-home personality (she hails from Tennessee), plus the way she cares for our entire family almost outshines her beauty. I said “almost” because there’s no denying her “WOW” factor.

Jade’s family still lives back in Tennessee, so Peter and I both try to be here for her if she needs anything. Last year after her car was totaled (a hit and run while parked in front of her building), she was in our kitchen on her cell phone dealing with her insurance company. The person on the other end must have asked her where she was at that moment, and she answered (in her sweet southern accent): “I’m with the folks that look after me”. Peter and I cracked up laughing. We just loved that she “got” how much we adore her, and how much our entire family loves her.

On September 10th Jade turned twenty-one, so of course we had to take her somewhere special to celebrate that night! I checked with Cody and we decided on XIV. It was perfect, and we had the best time TRYING to get through FOURTEEN delicious courses together. We almost made it (stopped at thirteen) but we’ll always remember it as yet another fun and fabulous, Michael Mina family experience.

What we ate:

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Sea Scallops Tempura, Cauliflower, Passion Fruit, Edamame, Almonds $17

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Liberty Duck Breast, Seared Fois Gras, Leg Confit, Pineapple, Star Anise $36

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Tataki of American Wagyu Skirt Steak, Moroccan Spiced Vegetables $16

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Top Left: Beef Carpaccio, Heart of Romaine, Cherry Tomatoes, Horseradish $16
Top Right: Tai Snapper Tapioca-Crusted, Broccoli Rabe, White Soy Vinaigrette $33
Bottom Right: Heirloom Beets, Burrata, Wild Arugula, Aged Balsamic, New Olive Oil $15
Bottom Left: Jidori Chicken “Cobb”, Blue Cheese, Avocado, Baby Gem Lettuce $17

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Top Left: XIV Caesar Salad, Classic Dressing, Shaved Parmesan Reggiano $13
Top Right: Kobe Burger, Trio of French Fries, Farmhouse Cheddar, & “Secret Sauce” $27
Bottom Right: Asparagus Risotto, Sqash Blossom, Chervil, Castelmagnno Cheese $25
Bottom Left: Lobster Pot Pie, Baby Summer Veg, Brandied Cream Sauce $59

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Sweet Corn Soup: Pork Belly, Apple Cider, Cilantro and Sea Salt $15
Bottom Left: Nutella Custard: Popcorn Ice Cream, Toast Streusel, Passion Fruit $11

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Birthday Card from XIV Staff. Jade & my nephew Cody.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Uncle Peter, Jade & Cody.

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com
Happy Birthday Jade!

XIV (restaurant now closed)
8117 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 656-1414

XIV Website

Dining Date: 9/10/09

XIV Michael Mina, MyLastBite.com

Our XIV dinner (with lots of cocktails) was $200 per person, so the DineLA deal is a wonderful way to try out the menu!

Restaurant Week> October 4 – 9 / October 11-16

Mentioned Above:

Meeting Michael Mina, San Francisco with the twins!

Michael Mina’s Website

About Michael Mina

Michelin Guide

XIV on Urbanspoon

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Squash Habañero Chutney

A great big THANK YOU to TasteSpotting, for graciously adding my Squash Habañero Chutney recipe to the Patrón Social Club: “TasteSpotting this summer brings the perfection of Patrón into your kitchen with entertaining tips, ideas, and recipes created especially for Patrón.” (Links below)

Squash + Habañero Chutney, MyLastBite.com

About the recipe:

I like it fiery hot. Whenever I mix up a big batch of my homemade Habañero Chutney, I’m usually the only one who ends up enjoying it. So, for the whole room of dinner guests to eat and enjoy, I make a version that includes apple and squash, which temper the heat of the Habañero.

Making a chutney is really quite simple. It just takes a little bit of patience to stand next to the stove, which just happens to be my favorite spot in the house.

The chutney is the perfect accompaniment to a simple grilled Flat Iron Steak.

My Step-by-Step Photos Recipe on the official Patrón Social Club website

Squash & Habañero Chutney, MyLastBite.com
Ingredients

Squash & Habañero Chutney, MyLastBite.com
Prepped & Ready to Cook!

Squash & Habañero Chutney, MyLastBite.com
Slowly Cooking Chutney. Grilling Flat Iron Steak on Grill

Squash & Habañero Chutney, MyLastBite.com
Grilled Flat Iron, Squash Habañero Chutney

TasteSpotting

About the Habañero Chili

About Flat Iron Steak (my current favorite beef cut)

Recipe posted soon

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Filed under Recipes