Tag Archives: VIRBILA

The Bazaar by José Andrés [11]

After multiple visits to the Bazaar (this being number eleven), Peter and I get most excited when we’re bringing in “Bazaar Virgins” (first timers) to the restaurant. It’s even more fun when they’re big time foodies like our friends Ron and Diane. Thanks to the wonderful staff (William, Felix, Alison, Audra!), we were seated at my favorite table in the Rojo room, with a direct view of the open kitchen.

It’s always a delight when Amanda rolls up to our table with the liquid nitrogen cart (or caviar or cotton candy). And I love when servers that aren’t even working our table (Calvin and Hugh) stop by for a quick hello. I’ve had several people ask me why I keep returning to the Bazaar, when there are so many other places to try, and honestly… besides the incredible food and fun atmosphere, it’s because they make me (and my “virgins”) feel perfectly welcome on each and every visit.

THANK YOU to everyone at Bazaar and SLS!

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
West Hollywood Cone: Rainbow Tobiko Caviar (almost too pretty to eat!)

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Papas Canarias: Salty, wrinkled potatoes with mojo verde

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Japanese Taco: Grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi and chicharron

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Tortilla de Patates “New Way” Potato Foam, egg 63, caramelized onions

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Gazpacho estilo Algeciras: Traditional gazpacho

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Ensaladilla Rusa: Potato salad, tuna belly and mayo (I know this doesn’t look like much, but the flavors here were FANTASTIC.)

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Wild Mushroom Soup: Idiazabal cheese and golden egg yolk

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Uva Bella cocktails (muddled white grapes, gin, elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and orange bitters).

The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
 465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
(310) 246-5555
http://www.theBazaar.com

< Visit 10

Dining date: 4/26/09

The Bazaar By Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under Eating Out

Saam (Bazaar visit 9, Saam visit 1)

Dining in the new Saam restaurant makes you feel special. It’s located behind a secured, nondescript door near Bar Centro, at the Bazaar by José Andrés. Each of the twenty courses (one or two bites each) are brought out on individual plates, while you sit at one of the exclusive, coveted tables. To me, it feels like a sleek and sexy modern-day speakeasy.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.comThe service? Impeccable. I haven’t been to Alinea yet, but I’m guessing the experience is close, or at least as close as we’re going to get here in Los Angeles! It’s like flying first class, where you’re treated like a celebrity and you know it. Especially true for an early dinner on opening weekend. We were one of the first to be seated for the Saturday evening service, and at times there were four staff members looking after the two of us.

The food? It was my ninth visit to the Bazaar and I knew the menu backwards and forwards, so I was pleasantly surprised to find each dish “kicked up a notch”, and thrilled to try a few new bites as well. I found myself mouthing “wow” to my husband Peter, especially when we were served updated versions of dishes we tried on previous visits.

“Saam: The Chef’s Tasting Menu” is printed on top of each take-home menu (rolled up and tied with a little black ribbon), a great souvenir to remember an elegant evening. But throughout our wonderful dinner, I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing. The food was the best I’d ever had at the Bazaar, so that wasn’t it. Our server Charlie was attentive, engaging and throughly knowledgeable. Carolina was nearby in case we had any needs or questions as well. Managers William and Felix stopped by to ensure that we (and later, each and every table) were enjoying the evening, but my dinner still felt incomplete. Why?

Because “Saam: The Chef’s Tasting Room” was missing the one thing I love most about the Bazaar (besides the food), it was missing the chefs.

My favorite tables at the Bazaar are one of the two “Tron” tables in the Rojo room. They’re not officially called “Tron” tables… that’s just what we call them because they have cool laser-like red lights beneath the surface. The few times I’ve been lucky enough to have a seat facing the open kitchen was at one of the these tables. I loved watching Chef Voltaggio warm up the “smoking” gun to finish off the salmon dishes. And as a fan of the show “Top Chef”, could there be anything better than seeing Chef Marcel Vigneron working the foam? By the way, I think the show portrayed him as an arrogant nitwit, because in person he’s a real sweetheart. 

After we finished our evening at Saam, we made our way to the Rojo kitchen where the kitchen staff was in full swing. It was busy, crowded and the room was filled with the frenetic energy that I missed. It sort of felt like I had been at the wrong party earlier.

Do I recommend Saam? Absolutely. Especially if it’s your first visit to the Bazaar. It’s quieter and more focused than either the Rojo or the Blanca room, and you’ll be carefully guided through a palate pleasing, high-flying experience. Heck, it’s not that I don’t like flying first class (the few times I’ve experienced it), it’s just that I like watching the crew even better.

Tasting Menu is $120 per person.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #1: Salt Air Margarita. Delicious as always.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #2: Sweet Potato Chips and Yogurt Dip. I love the anise flavor in the yogurt.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
 Caviar Steamed Bun. Using the steamed bun makes for a nice twist on a classic.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #4: Olive Oil Bonbon This was such a treat!! I first saw this being made on “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” by Chef Andrés and his Minibar Chefs: Ruben Garcia and Katsuya Fukushima. It’s like a candy shell filled with olive oil. Into your mouth and it crumbles. SO AMAZING.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #5: Bagel and Lox Cone. Delicious as always.

Foie Gras Cotton Candy, MyLastBite.com
Course #6: Cotton Candy Foie Gras (foie gras rolled in corn nuts). Still a favorite and so good I forgot to take a photo before eating! (photo from previous visit)

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #7: Olives Ferran Adria. My first love (and why I started taking Molecular Gastronomy classes last year!)

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #8: Jose’s Ham and Cheese.  I LOVED the Jamón Ibérico with the soft La Serena cheese inside the “air bread”. This was one of the “kicked up” dish updates, similar to “Philly Cheesesteak”. La Serena is a creamy, aromatic (aka really stinky which I love!) cheese from Extremadura in Western Spain.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #9: Sea Urchin Conservas. Fantastic flavors AND presentation.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #10: Boneless Chicken Wing. Delicious as always.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #11: Shrimp Cocktail. The updated cocktail sauce was richer, almost creamy.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #12: Nitro Gazpacho. I always love when the Liquid Nitrogen cart rolls up! Gazpacho “cooked” in the nitro.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #13: Blufin Tuna Toro (and Norwegian Lobster). Both AMAZING.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #14: Norwegian Lobster.
Perfection in one bite.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #15: “Smoked” Salmon. Another favorite, the dish is finished using a “smoking gun”.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #16: Not Your Everyday Caprese (top). I recently learned how to make these liquid mozzarella balls!

Course #17: Tournedos Rossinii 2009. Wagyu beef, truffle and foie gras. MORE PLEASE!

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #18: Dragon’s Breath (caramel popcorn “cooked” in liquid nitrogen). Currently only served in the Saam room, we’ve enjoyed it several times before. It’s FUN!

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Felix Meana making Dragon’s Breath

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Coconut in a “Half Shell”. Peter loved all three desserts. I was too full!

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Chocolate Biscuit Coulant Michel Bras (above) and Petit Fours: Tablets, Bonbons

Saam, at the Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
 465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
(310) 246-5555
Dining date: 4/11/09

Mentioned above:

Tron, the movie

Tron, the table

Alinea (someday!)

Top Chef

Smoking Gun

Molecular Gastronomy Classes

Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie

Watch the episode with the Olive Oil Bonbon!

MiniBar

In the kitchen with the chefs

<< Bazaar Visit #8

Bazaar Visit #10 >>

All my Bazaar photos on Flickr

Saam at the Bazaar By José Andrés on Urbanspoon

11 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

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.

18 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me), Molecular Cooking

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

13 Comments

Filed under Eating Out

The Bazaar by José Andrés [8]

Sunday night at the Bazaar with Phil from “My Life As A Foodie”, his wife Katrina, and fellow food-lovers Dean and Stephanie.

When we were seated at the “Chefs Table” in the Rojo Room, Peter and I made sure that he and I were the two diners facing AWAY from the open kitchen. We had four eager “Bazaar Virgins” with us and for them to get the most of the experience, they faced the chefs, giving them first-class seats to the “show”!

We shared many of what I now call “essential” tapas from both the Blanca and Rojo menus. These are dishes we get every visit and include: Jamón Ibérico, Chicken and Béchamel Fritters, Sea Urchin with Avocado in a Steamed Mini Bun and Philly Cheesesteak Air Bread (photo links below).

This was my eighth dinner at Bazaar. Had I tried everything on both the Rojo and Blanco menus? Well no, to be honest there were still a few vegetable dishes I’d been avoiding. It’s not that I don’t like veggies, it’s just that when presented with a choice between plump butifarra (sausage) or brussel sprouts… I’m going to always insist on the meats (or seafood or foie gras) first.

Our evening was made even more delightful when Chef Voltaggio presented a NEW, elegant salmon dish that he wanted us to try. The “Smoked” Salmon was cooked sous vide (French for “under vacuum”), served with cucumber “noodles” and set on top of a small potato blintz. This was all presented under a glass dome and served on a piece of black slate. Before leaving the kitchen, the dome was lifted slightly and Chef Voltaggio “smoked” the salmon with a culinary *smoking gun. When the servers brought the salmon to the table, puffs of smoke gently wafted from under the glass as the domes were removed. It was cool (and tasted heavenly).

General Manager, William Douillet, seemed to always “magically” appear when there was the slightest inquiry.  Thoughtful and courteous, he always makes each visit a “special” occasion. Our four friends, no longer “Bazaar Virgins”, still haven’t stopped talking about the experience.

Tapas we tried on this visit:

Ajo Blanco, MyLastBite.com
Ajo Blanco: White Gazpacho, Tomatoes, Grapes, Raisins, topped with Tomato Granita $5. I loved this savory dish (sort of like a panna cotta), especially the texture of the granita on top.

Cauliflower "Couscous", MyLastBite.com
Sautéed Cauliflower “Couscous”
: Cauliflower puree, harissa, pomegranate $8. The tiny, crunchy bits of cauliflower were terrific mixed with the pomegranate.

Brussel Sprout Leaves, MyLastBite.com
Brussel Sprout Leaves with lemon purée, apricots, grapes and lemon “air” $8. I hated brussel sprouts as a kid, so the fact that I actually liked this was a nice surprise.

Buñuelos, MyLastBite.com
Buñuelos (Codfish Fritters) with Honey Aoli $8. I liked that I could really taste the fish in these fried balls. Usually with deep-fried fish, all I taste is the “fried” part.

Quesos, MyLastBite.com
Cheese from right to left: This was my first taste of 
La Serenaa creamy, aromatic (aka really stinky which I love!) cheese from Extremadura in Western Spain. Valdeón is a rich, creamy, intensely-flavored cow and goat’s milk blue cheese, saltier than Stilton and not as intense as Cabrales. Idiazábal is the national cheese of the Basque country, is made from sheep’s milk and is usually smoked. Served with Picos (Spanish crispy bread) and Quince jam. 3 Quesos $15

"Smoked" Salmon 1, MyLastBite.com
The “Smoked” Salmon arriving at our table…

"Smoked" Salmon 3, MyLastBite.com
The
“Smoked” Salmon, cooked sous vide with Cucumber Noodles, then “smoked” with a smoking gun, served over a small Potato Blintz. The flavors and textures were OUTSTANDING… perfectly cooked salmon, with faux cucumber noodles on crispy potatoes.

Wild Mushroom Rice, MyLastBite.com
Wild Mushroom Rice with Idiazábal Cheese, $10. A creamy, savory tapas version of the rice dish Marcel surprised us with on visit #4 (sans truffles).

“Essential” Bazaar Tapas that we get on every visit:

Sea Urchins, Avocado in a Steamed Mini Bun

Jamón Ibérico (Iberian Ham)

Chicken & Béchamel Fritters

Philly Cheesesteak Air Bread 

‘Pa amb’ tomaquet (bread with tomato in Catalan)

Mentioned above:

My Life as a Foodie
(with many more Bazaar dinner details)

The Smoking Gun

More about Sous Vide cooking

Chef Michael Voltaggio

Manager William Douillet

My Bazaar Photos on Flickr

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

Dining Date: 3/29/09

<– Bazaar Visit 7

Bazaar Visit 9 –>

4 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

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

1 Comment

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

10 Comments

Filed under Eating Out