Tag Archives: times

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

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The Bazaar by José Andrés [5,6]

Friday night at the Bazaar with the guys. No special occasion, just me and three handsome men celebrating the coming weekend with groovy, “new way” cocktails and platters of mostly “modern” tapas.

Joining me was my husband Peter (of course), our friend Julian (an artist and musician in Peter’s band), and photographer extraordinaire Andrew Macpherson. This was Julian and Andrew’s inaugural visit to the Bazaar, and I’ve jokingly started to call these first timers my “Bazaar Virgins” when I check in with the hostess… which pretty much makes me the devoted “Bazaar Courtesan”, I know.

So what’s better than Friday night at the Bazaar with three adventurous, sophisticated and talented men?

The answer of course is, Saturday night at the Bazaar with three adventurous, sophisticated and talented men! That’s right… we went two nights in a row, but understand this is only because we heard that the man himself, the one and only José Andrés, would (possibly) be in town. Indeed he was, and I got serious goose bumps seeing him standing nearby in his sexy white chef coat! On his PBS show, “Made in Spain”, he usually dresses in casual button-down shirts and khaki pants, but watching him command the room in uniform was sort of intoxicating.

At first I was a little nervous for the staff, especially for the crew in the open kitchen. Andrés is a perfectionist and he was definitely inspecting (sometimes photographing) each dish as it went out to diners. I looked at his face and there was something missing. Where was the exuberant smile that he sports on television? Where was his jovial, “everybody’s my pal” demeanor? 

Then I thought, “oh, he’s WORKING… he’s the BOSS”, it’s the “Bazaar by José Andrés” after all! When he took a seat near our table, I began to hear his familiar laugh as he started to relax. Since I was so used to the “happy-go-lucky” chef on television, I had thrown myself into a nervous state when the “real-life, this-is-business” chef emerged. It was pretty funny that I was the one that was flustered, because when I looked back in the kitchen, I realized that the crew (and the entire staff for that matter) were calm and collected… confidently gliding through dinner service. 

As we enjoyed our drinks and tapas, I kept hoping that I’d get a minute with chef Andrés, so I could tell him how much I love his newest restaurant. By that point he had been out of the kitchen for over an hour or so, and was happily holding court in one of the big, black leather booths against the wall.

We had met before, briefly, at Wolfgang Puck’s American Wine and Food Festival last fall. I told him then how I couldn’t stop obsessing over a Spanish blue cheese that I first learned about on “Made in Spain”. He laughed when I blamed him for my creamy addiction and blurted, “Cabrales is like CRACK”! Not my classiest moment, but it was a good one.

After our extended Bazaar dinner, we did get to say hello and I was happily stunned to learn that José Andrés had visited my website. When I introduced myself, he said “I didn’t recognize you at first, without the bread in your mouth”. 

Note to self: From now on, carry a demi-baguette when dining out.

What we ate:

 'Pa amb' tomaquet, Jamones. MyLastBite.com
‘Pa amb’ tomaquet (bread with tomato in Catalan) – Toasted sliced rustic bread brushed with fresh tomatoes AND Jamones (“Flight of all three” platter): Jamón Serrano (literally mountain ham), Jamón Ibérico (Iberian Ham), Jamón Serrano de bellota (higher fat content than Jamón Serrano).

Dragon's Breath! MyLastBite.com
Making the “Dragon’s Breath”, Caramel popcorn bites cooked in liquid nitrogen.

Tres Dragons, MyLastBite.com
Andrew, Peter and Julian experiencing the “Dragon’s Breath”!  What a shame this has been removed from the regular menu (but may be available in the private Saam dining room).

Japanese "Taco", MyLastBite.com
Japanese “Taco”: Grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, chicharron.

Above photos taken on Friday 3/13/09
Below photos taken on Saturday 3/14/09

Our Reserved Table at Bar Centro, MyLastBite.com
Our reserved table in Bar Centro

Magic Mojito, MyLastBite.com 
The “Magic Mojito” arrives with a martini glass filled with cotton candy. Then the waiter pours rum (strained over ice) which dissolves into the glass!

At the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Peter and Andrew enjoying from top left: Pa’amb Tomaguet (Cataln Style toasted bread rubbed with tomato), Not Your Everyday Caprese (Tomato and Liquid Mozzarella Pipettes), Sweet Potato Chips with Tamarind Yogurt Dip, Jamón Ibérico. In the middle are the Papas Canarias (Salty, Wrinkled Potatoes, with Mojo Verde Sauce on the side) and a partial view of the Organized Arugula Salad (Raspberries, Corn, Cabrales Blue Cheese)

NOTE: Photographing at the Chef’s table is difficult. We jokingly called it the “TRON Table”!

Potato Foam, Caviar MyLastBite.com
Tortilla de patatas: Potato Foam, egg 63 (cooked at 63 degrees), caramelized onions (served in egg shell). I LOVE this new version of the potato foam. It used to come in a large martini glass and I prefer this smaller portion with more textures. On the right side of photo is the American Caviar Cone.

One Bite Wonder! MyLastBite.com
Foie Gras Cotton Candy! Me, Julian, my husband Peter and Andrew.

Meeting Jose, MyLastBite.com
Julian, Andrew, José Andrés, Peter

With Jose Andres, MyLastBite.com
Jo & José

At the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
With the chefs that keep us coming back for more! Marcel Vigneron, (LUCKY me), Michael Voltaggio and Ruben Garcia

Bites we usually have on every visit:

Foie Gras and Quince on mini Brioche Bun

Organized Caesar Salad with Quail Egg and Parmesan

Boneless Chicken Wings with Green Olive Puree and Ice Plant

Foie Gras rolled in Corn Nuts and wrapped in Cotton Candy

Latas Y Conservas: King Crab and Raspberries

Philly Cheesesteak: Air Bread, Whipped Cheddar and Wagyu Beef 

Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5555
http://www.TheBazaar.com

Mentioned above:

Andrew Macpherson’s Photographs

Julian Hill’s Artwork

Peter’s band, Rubylith

Meeting José the first time

Cabrales Cheese

Made in Spain 

<– Bazaar Visit #4

–> Bazaar Visit #7

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Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

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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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)

 

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MyLastBite.com on L.A. Times

A great big THANK YOU to Rene Lynch at the L.A. Times for posting one of my photos today. It’s of a delicious José Andrés pork recipe that I saw on “A Moveable Feast with America’s Favorite Chefs”.

Andrés is my very favorite chef to watch on TV, and I love cooking from his “Made in Spain” cookbook, a companion book to the PBS show of the same name. If you’ve never seen “Made in Spain”, definitely check it out. His enthusiam and passion for Spanish food will make you smile AND get you in the kitchen ahora (now)!

MyLastBite.com on L.A. Times


The Pork Loin Recipe

MyLastBite on L.A. Times

“Made in Spain” book by José Andrés

“Made in Spain” TV Show

“A Moveable Feast with America’s Favorite Chefs”

With José Andrés

The Bazaar by José Andrés

4 Comments

Filed under Little Bites, Recipes

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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