I tend to fall a little bit in love with my favorite chefs, and subsequently fall a whole LOT in love with their food.
Like meeting a favorite actor or musician, I almost regress into my 13-year old obsessive self. If I could get away with covering my bedroom walls (and ceiling) with giant posters and framed Tiger Beat-ish (Food & Wine) glossies, I would. My husband Peter has nixed that idea of course, so I pin up snapshots around my kitchen pantry instead.
As a teenager I dreamt of being David Bowie’s “China Girl” and even threw birthday parties in his honor every year, hoping the thin white duke would be my “Modern Love” someday. I still have EVERY Bowie album (on vinyl) from my youth, tucked away on shelf in the closet. By the way, Happy Birthday David. I’ll be thinking of you on January 7th.
Peter and I recently took my family to LudoBites @RoyalT Cafe for a pre-Christmas holiday dinner. This most recent pop-up event (aka “3.0”) was for thirteen days only, a very limited engagement that made it feel like LudoBites was a rock band on tour.
I attended five LudoBites evenings in December, and shared incredible meals with fellow food lovers and friends including Bob, Andrew, Lisa, Dave, Katrina, Phil, Julian and of course, Peter.
The night I brought my good friend Jazz (Jitlada Thai Restaurant owner) was quite a treat. Mostly because she never actually takes time off to “eat out” during business hours. As she walked into the dining room, I saw heads turn to greet her. One person wrote on Twitter the next day, that seeing Jazz was like “spotting the queen” in the house. So true!
Family night was extra special of course, and everyone was blown away by the food and also the shopping! RoyalT Cafe houses a dangerous Hello Kitty collection, and I’m embarrassed to admit how much I spent during several visits. Let’s just say, that Peter won’t be buying me any valentines or birthday presents in 2010!
Dining out with my niece and nephews is always fun, but I especially got a kick out of watching the twins (Chace and Kindal, 13) react to Ludo as though he were a bona fide rock star. The whole family is enamored with both Ludo and Krissy (his beautiful wife and brilliant business partner). They all first met at one of our garden parties over the summer, and my 20-year old nephew Cody had been with us to LudoBites 2.0 @BreadBar in July.
My own love affair with LudoBites started with the Foie Gras Croque Monsieur (also during 2.0). This masterpiece starts with terrine of duck foie gras, ham and cheese grilled between two pieces of pain de mie (bread) with black squid ink, and a cherry-amaretto compote on the side. It was the first thing we ordered (if it was on the menu) during seven stellar evenings on the summer tour.
When LudoBites 3.0 was announced, Ludo stated that he would NOT repeat any previous dishes, including the beloved croque. That was a shot to my heart (and belly), and felt like when Bowie announced that he would never again sing “Changes” live in concert. Absolute heart ache.
Recently, Krissy hinted (via Twitter) that the next LudoBites (4.0) may include “Greatest Hits”, so I’m hopeful that chef Ludo reissues the classic croque.
Weeks before our family LudoBites dinner, the twins were both on FaceBook posting how excited they were to finally eat at LudoBites. None of their friends knew who Ludo was, but they were quickly educated on the awesomeness of Ludovic Lefebvre. If he and Krissy ever decide to do a pop-up restaurant in Glendora or San Dimas, they’ll have plenty of junior high school kids waiting in line!
Ludo changes his menu daily, so you never know what to expect. I was absolutely thrilled to see his (now legendary) Ludo’s Fried Chicken (aka LFC) available for our family night. Imagine a large, boneless chicken nugget, extremely juicy (not greasy), seasoned perfectly, way better than KFC!
I promptly ordered LFC for each of us (eight plates total), and we spent the next few hours sharing and tasting the entire menu. At the end of the night, Ludo came out to say hello (not just to our table), and I watched my niece’s face almost explode with joy. I knew that familiar look… a shy smile, rosy cheeks and an inability to stay still in her seat. Of course, Kindal was crushing on Ludo! Don’t we all?
Then it struck me… Ludo is HER Bowie. I thought about how I would’ve reacted if I met my crush at thirteen. Mostly likely, I would have screamed and probably hidden. But Kindal is so much more confident than I was back in 1977 (her brother Chace is too). She even brought chef Ludo a plate of her home made “Kindal’s Christmas Krackle”. That would be akin to me writing a song, recording it onto a cassette and mailing it to Ziggy Stardust himself.
There have been plenty of other chef crushes in 2009. Just take a look at my “Chef Photos” for evidence. But I have to say, the pure enjoyment of LudoBites has been my biggest crush of all. I wish there was some sort of foodie yearbook that I could sign… “Have a Gr8 New Year Ludo and Krissy. U guys r the coolest. LudoBites 4Ever!”
Just a FEW of my favorite dishes from LudoBites @RoyalT Cafe:
Ludo’s Famous Fried Chicken, Cantal Polenta, Baby Corn, Mole Sauce
Tuna Sashimi, Sushi Rice Ice Cream, Soy Sauce Gelee, Smoked Ginger Oil
Marinated Hanger Steak, Crunchy Escargot, Baby Corn, Bok Choy & Black Olive Mole
Crispy Confit Pork Belly, Burnt Eggplant Puree, Plantain, Coconutt, Thai Chili Emulsion
Striped Bass Teriyaki, Mashed Potatoes, Picked Garlic, Lemon-Miso
Foie Gras Beignet, Saffron-Dried Apricots
Fourme d’ Ambert Tourte, Red Pears, Honey-Balsamic
Chocolate Mousse (SPICY!!) , Lichis, and Sesame Paste
Many, many more LudoBites friends & food photos on Flickr!
Dates: (LudoBites 3.0)12/2, 12/10, 12/15, 12/20, 12/22
Kindal’s Christmas Krackle
LudoBites 2.0 @BreadBar
Check out this awesome LudoBites piece by MyLifeAsAFoodie
Jitlada Thai Restaurant
ALL my Ludo photos on Flickr
Happy New Year Everyone!! Here’s to more fun and tasty bites in 2010!!