Tag Archives: truffle

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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My Valentine Wiener

Peter and I celebrated a different kind of Valentine’s Day this year. Instead of our usual fancy “schmancy” dinner out, we opted for an afternoon trek downtown to Wurstküche, the “Purveyor of Exotic Grilled Sausages”.

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.comThinking there would be no traffic, we hopped on the 101 freeway a little before noon. What should have been a fifteen minute drive to Alameda street, took over an hour in the heavy traffic. I really hoped these exotic meats would be worth the trouble, especially since we skipped breakfast and were by then, really hungry. I wanted my wiener and I wanted it now!

After we parked (conveniently right out front of Wurstküche Restaurant), we walked in and quickly went over the menu. The sausages are broken down into three categories: “Classics”, “Gourmet” and “Exotics”. I ordered the Duck & Bacon with Jalapeno Pepper Sausage and Peter went for the Rattlesnake & Rabbit with Jalapeno Peppers (both from the “Exotics” list).

Along with sausages we also ordered Belgian Fries with Truffle Oil, which came with a dipping sauce. Choices were: Sweet and Sassy BBQ, Blue Cheese Walnut Bacon, Buttermilk Ranch, Thai Peanut, Tzatziki, Chipolte Ketchup, Sundried Tomato Mayo, Chipolte Mayo and Pesto Mayo. We selected the Blue Cheese Walnut Bacon.

As we continued ordering, I looked around and was shocked at how small the restaurant was. There was bar seating in front of the order counter and kitchen, and two small bistro tables outside. I’d heard great things about Wurstküche and wondered “where are all the eaters?”. Was I at the wrong place?

Like most folks, Peter and I rarely drink alcohol during the day (unless we’re on vacation of course), but this being a Valentine’s lunch and all, we decided it was a must. The list of beers (draft and bottled) were a little intimidating because, honestly, we’re not really into beer, so basically we blindly chose one each. Both draft beers, I selected the Chimay White and Peter ordered the Houblan Chouffe which was an Indian Pale.

While sipping our beers and waiting for our food, Peter noticed there were people coming from up the hallway. He asked one of the waiters where it led to and he motioned me to follow him. There we found a dining hall filled with smiling, happy people feasting on glistening sausages. The room was really large… probably 2,000 square feet, with communal tables and another bar along the back. A very relaxing “bier garten” indeed.

Speaking of which, both of our beers were delicious. My Chimay White was crisp and a tiny bit bitter (in a good way). Peter’s beer (the Indian pale, Houblan Chouffe) was amazing. I kept sipping it trying to figure out the flavor I was tasting, and I swear there was a hint of passion fruit.

Between the two sausages we shared, we both really loved the Duck, Bacon with Jalapeno and will definitely order that again and again. Next time we’ll have to try the Alligator & Pork or Green Chillies & Cilantro as well.

Note: The Rattlesnake & Rabbit with Jalapeno Peppers was good, but the Duck, Bacon with Jalapeno was “make your eyes roll back in your head” good.

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
Hooray, the food is here!

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
Duck and Bacon with Jalapeno Pepper Sausage $7.75

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
Rattlesnake and Rabbit with Jalapeno Peppers $7.75

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
Belgian Fries $3.50 with Blue Cheese Walnut Bacon Dressing (AWESOME). Truffle Oil +$1.50

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
Chimay White $8, Houblan Chouffe $8 (note the communal tables in background)

At Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
Two groovy chairs in the back bier hall/dining room. Comfy but too low to eat at, so we moved to one of the communal tables.

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
The almighty sausage case.

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
Order counter and beers on tap (upper left photo)

Wurstküche, MyLastBite.com
mmm… nothing beats the smell of wieners on a grill.

Wurstküche
800 E 3rd St,
Downtown Los Angeles
213.687.4444

Dining Date: 2/14/09

Website

We had our Valentines McFlurry! MyLastBite.comOn our way home the freeway was clogged (again) and pretty much a parking lot, so instead of trying to fight it we took the side streets. Driving along, every time we spotted a McDonalds, Peter and I started laughing because of the most recent episode of “30 Rock”. If you haven’t seen the “Valentines” episode then this won’t make sense to you, but we just had to stop and get a McFlurry! I hadn’t had a McFlurry in years… actually I’m not sure if I’ve ever had one. I definitely remember Dairy Queen Blizzards when I was younger, but this may have been my first McFlurry. I had the Oreo flavor and Peter had Snickers. It was definitely a sweet ending to our kooky, fun Valentine’s Day. Thanks Tina Fey!

Mentioned Above:

30 Rock

McDonalds

DQ


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Patina

Each year around the Christmas holidays, my husband Peter and I spend an evening at the L.A. Philharmonic. Instead of giving each other Christmas gifts (since we have everything we need), we share a nice dinner at Patina (which is next to the Disney Hall) and it makes for a special yearly event. This season we had tickets to hear the Count Basie Orchestra, and it was a lively evening filled with jazzy holiday fun.

Count Basie at the Phil, MyLastBite.comThe show started at 8pm, so we had an early 5:45 reservation at Patina. This was on December 22, which coincidently fell in the middle of their famous truffle dinners. The Black and White Truffle dinner was held a few days before our reservation (on 12/19), and I knew there were upcoming truffle dinners scheduled. I was hoping there were truffles leftover from the event because I’d never tasted a WHITE truffle.

No such luck! We did get to feast on some beautiful black truffles though and I made sure the rolling cheese cart never left our table for too long. It was another wonderful holiday celebration that included our two favorite things in life … food and music.

Patina Truffles! MyLastBite.com
Black Truffle Risotto

Patina Cheese, MyLastBite.com
The LOVELY Cheese Cart

Patina Cheese Course, MyLastBite.com
Cheeses 

Soumaintrain (on the left) is a really stinky French cheese with a taste that is both sweet and salty. It tasted similar to Epoisses but was actually creamier. It was my favorite cheese of the night. more info

Whisky Cheese tasted like whisky and cheese! I liked it. more info

Toma Bleue was a sharp blue cheese.

Ski Queen (the brown cheese) is soft and sweet. more info

Monte Enebro (far right) is made from goat’s milk and very pungent. Rolled in ash, it was really soft and spreadable. more info

Patina Fish Course, MyLastBite.com
Saint Pierre for Two. Saint Pierre (aka John Dory) baked with a grilled sage, sunchoke-sesame puree, wild arugula, toscane extra virgin olive oil jus.


Patina
141 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 972-3331

http://www.patinagroup.com/patina/

http://www.countbasie.com/

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My Truffle Shaver

One of my favorite kitchen tools is my Italian Truffle Shaver. I use mine year-round to cut paper thin slices of  shallots and garlic (to make crispy garlic chips!). It’s also great for chocolate and hard cheeses.
My Truffle Slicer, MyLastBite.com
My Truffle Slicer, MyLastBite.com
My Truffle Slicer, MyLastBite.com My Truffle Slicer, MyLastBite.com

You can buy them online here:

I own two:
The one seen above is sold on
Amazon
(around $20).
I also have this one with a
beautiful wood handle. ($40) It’s only for actual truffles!

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