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Akasha

I thought Akasha Restaurant was a vegan restaurant. Looking back in my 2008 calendar, I actually made several dinner reservations, then postponed going because I thought the meal would consist of only organic veggies.

It’s not that I don’t like my vegetables because I do. It’s just that I simply HATE the idea of going to a place that only serves things like portobello mushroom burgers and quinoa pudding.

To be perfectly frank, I think I got confused because I kept reading that Akasha was a “green” restaurant. Some of the amazing “green facts” listed on their website include:

FOOD
Sources: Farms, ranches and fisheries that are guided by the principles of sustainability, local produce whenever possible.

Standards: Natural and organic ingredients with no artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, trans fats, nitrates, hormones or antibiotics.

BEVERAGE
Water: In-house water purified and bottled with the Natura system.

Spirits, Wine & Beer: Many organic, sustainable and bio-dynamic selections on list.

BUILDING AND DÉCOR
Materials: American Clay, no VOC paint, sustainable insulation recycled ceiling material, reclaimed finishes, recycled glass tile, reclaimed barn wood recycled fiberglass insulation, beeswax finishes, local limestone.

Furniture: Organic leather, hemp fabric, sustainable wood.

Bathrooms: Reclaimed wood stalls, waterless urinals, auto shut off sinks, biodegradable soap, high post-consumer toilet paper / paper towels.

UNIFORMS
Jeans: Levis Eco 100% organic cotton jeans

Shirts & Tee Shirts: 100% organic cotton

PAPER GOODS
To-Go Cutlery: Wheatware™, biodegradable, made from wheat (link to complete list below).

Yes, Akasha Restaurant is “green”, and downright beautiful as well. But Akasha restaurant is NOT, and has never been a vegan restaurant. 

They serve BEEF (hell, yes!): The best short-ribs I’ve ever had, cooked “asian-style” with star anise and ginger.

They also serve lamb: Decadent little Niman Ranch lamb sliders topped with feta and tomato chutney. And fyi… I’m not a big lamb fan, but I would order Akasha’s mini lamb burgers again and again.

The two seafood dishes I tried were fantastic. Perfectly seared albacore and wild pepper scallops with forbidden black rice risotto.

Quinoa? Yep, it’s on the menu, but I didn’t order it on my first visit. Maybe next time, but only if I’m having a big, comforting plate of juicy, pork chops as well!

Akasha Restaurant, MyLastBite.com
Awesome Cocktails: 
“Slumdog Passion” (left), tru lemon organic vodka, passion fruit puree, pineapple juice, blood orange & agave. “The Akasha”, made with crop organic cucumber vodka, pineapple & cucumber juice, martini style.

Akasha Restaurant, MyLastBite.com
Deep-fried Chickpeas (very similar to Animal!)

Akasha Restaurant, MyLastBite.com
In photos clockwise from bottom left: La Quercia Prosciutto Pizza (oregonzola, fig, caramelized onions, wild arugula), Asian Style Braised Shortribs (star anise, ginger & pink peppercorns, parsnip-potato puree, baby spinach, scallions), Organic Macaroni and Cheese with toasted bread crumbs, Niman Ranch Lamb Sliders with sheep’s feta, local arugula, tomato chutney . (We were so hungry, I was rushing the camera. I will get BETTER photos on my next visit I promise! ) 

Akasha Restaurant, MyLastBite.com
In photos clockwise from bottom left: Escalavida on a mushroom puree with truffle salt, Togarashi Seared Albacore (bibb lettuce, daikon, carrots, avocado, coconut cashews, spicy sweet chili sauce), House-made Onion Rings (rice flour crusted, smoked paprika dipping sauce), Decadent Chocolate Dessert.

And Finally… Why do my pups love Akasha?

Because she sent home a bag of home-made, delicious doggie biscuits!
Dog Cookies from Akasha! MyLastBite.com
Top left: Harrison (white), Miss Martini (black) and the baby… little (blonde) Maxwell!

Akasha! MyLastBite.comAkasha Restaurant
9543 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 845-1700 

Website (with menu)

OpenTable (free reservations)

Dining Date: 4/19/09 (Dinner with Julian, Wendy and of course, Peter)

Cmplete list of Akasha “Green Facts” here

Akasha on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out

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