Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts

Eat Drink Style Anti-Valentine's Day Dinner

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Cafeteria Tray

The last time Valentine's Day actually mattered to me was in my prepubescent years in elementary school - you know, the days of innocence. For this day, you begged your parents to spend their hard-earned money on cards bearing Warner Bros. & Disney characters, heart-shaped candy that tasted like chalky meth and for that special special someone in your life, a small stuffed animal or something. It was honest, unadulterated fun. But, I had my system of distributing cards. I'd save all the crappy cards like Yosemite Sam or Three Blind Mice for people with cooties or didn't pick me on their kickball teams. These jerks wouldn't get any candy at all – not even the heart-shaped meth. They would get the stock message written on the copy without even a signature. Then there was the middle-tier friends who were cool to me and talked to me, but would never trade their delicious fruit snacks or fruit roll-ups for my asian delicacies like haw flakes or seaweed rice crackers. These racist friends still got a crappy card but some candy that actually had taste, AND a curvy autograph. And the final group to receive cards were for the ladies only. More likely than not, you liked more than one girl and that's why you'll see more than one Pepé Le Pew or Mickey/Minnie cards in that box – for 10-year old players like you. Now these were the cards I spent most of my night working on. I could see my mom smiling as I tried to profess my love in my limited kid vocabulary. I would say deep things like...

"You are sweet, pretty, cute, smart, beautiful, pretty, cute, sweet, fast, funny and cute. Hope you like Pepé Le Pew. Love, Dylan."

Attached to the card that was nicely sealed, I'd give like 5-7 candies. It was a simple yet fun time for many of us. And Jeni I promise, she means nothing to me haha. You are " sweet, pretty, cute, smart, beautiful, pretty, cute, sweet, fast, funny and cute" to the 100th power.

But now, as you get older, this particular 'holiday' requires you to fork out more and more of your hard-earned cash. In a relationship, shouldn't everyday be a test of one's love and devotion for a significant other? I took Jeni to Hometown Buffet a few years back, but this time, we wanted to do an Anti-Valentine's Day thing with some friends. I decided to tie the dinner theme back to elementary school... when looking 'cool' meant bringing your lunch in a brown paper bag, and buying cafeteria food on a tray meant you were a broke loser. Harsh!

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Bleu Cheese Burger with Caramelized Onions and Fried Egg

Bleu Cheese Burger with Fried Egg, Watercress & Caramelized Onions
Father's Office, you either hate it or you love it. I think Chef Sang Yoon does a good job on the burger but I think it's too sweet and a bit strong on the bleu cheese. And he's missing one component that, for me, takes food to another level… fried egg! I marinated ground beef with bleu cheese chunks, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, minced onions, cayenne pepper and S&P. Let that sit for an hour or two in the fridge covered with saran wrap and mold your burgers. Caramelize your onions and if you're not using a sweet wine like port, add a little sugar to give your onions a nice sweetness. Serve with arugula tossed lightly in a vinaigrette or try it with watercress, which has a delicate mustard taste that I enjoy.

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Crab, Macaroni & Cheese with Scallions & Smoked Paprika

Alaskan King Crab Macaroni & Cheese with Scallions & Smoked Paprika
I love crab, and I love macaroni & cheese – this dish was a perfect mesh of flavors. I made a cheese roux with flour, butter, milk and whatever brand of grated cheddar cheese and mixed the sauce in with the macaroni shells. I then sautéed the crab quickly with some garlic, smoked paprika, shallots and smoked paprika. Just enough to wake the crab up. Add this on top of the macaroni & cheese or mix it in. This was really good.

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Garlicky Tater Tots

Garlicky Tater Tots
I don't know anyone that dislikes tater tots, especially kids. Versus eating large fries, tater tots were the perfect finger food. I sautéed some garlic and parsley and lightly mixed them into the freshly baked tater tots. For dipping, I mixed in some curry powder into some ketchup (inspired by Wurstkuche in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles - review coming soon!) for a nice kick. For your snobby friends, try mixing the tater tots with grated asiago cheese and a few drops of truffle oil – good stuff.

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009 Chocolate Cookies

Save the Best for Last Cookies
Always the one thing kids are eyeing as they chomp down on soggy chicken nuggets and vegetables. Thanks to Sandra for baking these tasty cookies.

As we ate, we drank great Belgian beer from Cap n' Cork in Los Feliz and enjoyed the sultry sounds of my Valentine's mix, Cheesy & Sleazy, still available for free download.

C&S Full

Anti-Valentine's Day 2009

Thanks for reading.

Eat Drink Style Fraîche, Culver City - Good Lunch Option for Under $15

Fraiche Culver City Patio

If you're tired of Tender Greens, Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, Sushi Zo, Sushi Karen and the numerous Thai/Chinese restaurants in Culver City, Fraîche might be a great option – with a lunch menu that fits snugly under $15. Frank Bruni of New York Times rated Fraîche as his #6 favorite 'coast-to-coast' restaurant, and stated that he could eat their salads everyday. I've been passing by this place for months and it wasn't until Jeni told me how much she liked the food, that I decided to give, Fraîche, a little attention. This is the kind of place that would make Rachael Ray flash her vibrant, $40-a-day, Joker-like smile. That smile.

I met up my friend TN, aka TyTown, on a Friday afternoon here at Fraîche, who's been a fan ever since having dinner here. And joining us, was our new Canon 40D only a few days old. Jeni & I had our Nikon D70 stolen during a trip to the Quintana Roo-side of Mexico. Under-$15 meal, long lunch break with beer, perfect daylight, and a new Canon – conditions were perfect. Oh yeah, and lunch with a good friend.

Fraiche Culver City Plate

I usually don't pay this much attention to such commonplace objects like plates, forks and knives. But they served as perfect subjects for practice shots.

Fraiche Culver City Bread

And have you ever heard of this thing known as bread. Apparently it's made of flour, yeast, oil and salt. Mixed together and baked at a certain temperature, it takes shape into this! Apparently, Jesus was a big fan of this. Seriously, more practice-shot fodder.

Fraiche Culver City Belgian Beer

Any lunch break that is bound to last more than a hour and a half is usually preceded by a nice, crisp beer. Forgot the name of this, but maybe my beer connoisseur friend can guess it's name simply by looking at it.

Fraiche Culver City Burrata Red Peppers

Burrata Cheese with Roasted Red Peppers & Balsamic
We started out with this per Jeni's recommendation. I can never say no to such a soft, roll-your-eyes-back cheese like burrata. The burrata cheese is dolloped generously over vibrant, red peppers, still shiny from lounging in a pool of high quality EVOO. Garnished with thinly-sliced red onions and parsley, and drizzled with the Italian equivalent of soy sauce. Thought this was very good, but definitely not the best burrata I've eaten. This was a bit more 'cottage-cheese' like in texture but still retained creaminess.

Fraiche Culver City Royale with Cheese

Royale with Cheese
Any fan of Pulp Fiction will do a double take upon seeing this written in the menu. The sound of it immediately causes you to salivate. The prime beef patty is served with gruyere cheese in a sage/cheese bread which resembles a scone. Condiments are served on the side. I loved this, especially the bread. It was the perfect balance of sage and cheese and exhibited a nice toastiness to it. As an LA burger, I put this in line right after Father's Office' burger. Not sure how it compares to The Counter or Apple Pan, so if there are any burger connoisseurs, would love to hear what you think. I myself only eat 3-4 burgers a year.

Fraiche Culver City Fries

Fraîche Fries
These are fries done nicely... 36-24-36 fries. Fried beautifully with skin still on. And the perfect amount – about 25-30 pieces. I hate when a restaurant dumps a crap load of Sysco french fries next to a burger or two pieces of battered fish. Proportions are good!

Fraiche Culver City Albacore Sandwich

Seared Albacore Tuna, Black Olive, Anchovy & Egg Sandwich (Pan Bagnet)
Fish. Olives. Anchovies. Eggs. I'm sold. You can separate these individually in a tray and I'd still be happy. This was one wholesome looking sandwich. Thick cut of nicely-seared albacore, salty anchovies, olives and my favorite, eggs. This was good but probably my last time ordering this. The tuna was cut a little too thick and didn't have enough salt. Where is my Maggi sauce when I need it?

Overall, this is one solid lunch spot. With food that looks like this, you'd expect a lot of tilted heads and raised nostrils – not one bit. I felt like I was on vacation here... enjoying my food and crisp beer. And the best thing about it is that the lunch menu is pretty much under $15. Now I have a place to celebrate paycheck-day!

Fraîche
9411 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
310-839-6800
http://www.fraicherestaurantla.com/

Eat Drink Style Father's Office II, Culver City - The Sang Yoon Bleu Cheese Burger Legacy Continues

Father's Office II Culver City

Sequels. Usually a thing that's hit or miss. Karate Kid. Police Academy. Die Hard. Van Dumb & Steven Segal movies... you either love them or you hate them. And a big can of worms is opened with various opinions. With all the talk over the last year about Father's Office opening a second location, the question isn't whether or not it'll be better than the Santa Monica location... the question is "when the f*ck is it actually opening?" And finally, after god knows how long, Chef Sang Yoon has opened up chapter 2 in his restaurant career with Father's Office II this week, located in the Helms Bakery Building in Culver City, or to foodies, as CuCi. I myself, call it Construction City, because things never seem to get done here thanks to Cal Trans.

At exactly 5:07 pm, my coworker RM, Jeni and I quickly turned on to Helms Avenue. It was only the 2nd day of the grand opening and we eagerly stuck our heads out the window to see if there were herds of people outside. And.... NO! No ridiculous Best Buy line-around-the-building crap.

We walked up and were given a warm welcome by the door man. Yes, a door man. "Welcome to Father's Office." Once we walked in, it was immediately understood why this establishment had taken so long to open. It's with Chef Yoon's careful planning, immaculate design and pure passion and craft that make Father's Office an experience of its own. In front of us stood the bar, made out of beautifully, lacquered wood. Behind, we saw about 35+ taps on both the left and right side of the back wall, making it a total of 70+ taps ready to imbibe us with goodness. All the bartenders and servers wore black t-shirts with a simple "F.O..." graphic. Why there are thought dots... I don't know. Maybe a breath of relief that it's finally opened?

Father's Office II Shirt

Father's Office II Bar1

Father's Office II Draft

35+ Delicious Choices of Beer
Chef Yoon is definitely a beer connoisseur, or in proper form, a cerevisaphile. I felt like a kid in a candy store as I slowly studied the various taps from left to right. Most I have heard of, yet it's still amazing to see all this godsend in one place.

Father's Office II Bar3

Non-Beer Items
In addition to beer, Chef Yoon has a liking for tequilas, whiskies and gin – further proof that Koreans love to drink. If you look carefully between the shelves, you'll see what looks like a digital indicator. He's got humidifying fans installed above the bottles so that each spirit rests in an optimum level for your enjoyment.

Father's Office II Bar2

Father's Office II Beer1

Delirium Tremens, one solid Belgian beer.

Father's Office II Beer3

Inversion IPA. Never heard of it, but tasted great.

Father's Office II Beer2

Hitachino Classic Ale. A solid Japanese beer made in Hitachi, Japan, the same city as the major electronics brand.

Father's Office II Smoked Eel

Smoked Eel with Poached Egg
Yes, all everyone talks about is the Bleu Cheese burger at FO, but what about the lonely, neglected stepchildren on the menu... like the Smoked Eel with Poached Egg. Man, I love this dish. First off it's smoked and it has my most favorite ingredient in the world, eggs. I poked the poached egg with the tine of my fork and watched the yolk slowly ooze out like a premature volcano. I mixed the thinly sliced red onions, poached egg with the horseradish/creme fraîche and cut a piece of the eel. The eel actually required me to use a knife to cut through it, a sign that the fish had great texture. I love this dish. It's a perfect balance of smokiness, temperature and texture. *high-5* Sang Yoon.

Father's Office II Lamb Skewers

Lamb Skewers with Roasted Eggplant and Radicchio
My vegan coworker RM ordered this. Which doesn't make any sense, but he in general, doesn't make a lot of sense at all. Anyway, loved this dish as well. I could taste cayenne, paprika, cumin and oregano... very Mediterranean. The lamb was so fresh that it didn't have any gameyness to it. If you told me it was beef after about 6 beers, I'd believe you.

Father's Office II Yam Fries

Yam Fries "A La Cart"
Yet another food pun. But what a great dish it is. These taste better than a lot of the yam fries I've eaten in Koreatown cafes. Nicely seasoned with a side of Cabreles Bleu Cheese aioli. *High-5 Sang Yoon*

Father's Office II Burger1

Father's Office Bleu Cheese Burger
One time at the Santa Monica FO, my friend and I argued over how many burgers FO sells in one day. In about one hour starting at 12 pm, we saw nearly 30 orders go out. And it wasn't even busy at all. Any idea how many they sell in a day at the new location? My guess is 400 on an average day. 400 x $12 = $4,800. *High-5 Sang Yoon*

Father's Office Sang Yoon

And how does the FO sequel pan out? I think it's going to be one of the biggest profiters in Culver City. FO2 is larger, offers more beer and is located at the right place at the right time, when Culver City is booming as a culinary pit-stop in Los Angeles. Next question for Chef Sang Yoon, will there be a 3rd sequel in the near future? And also Sang Yoon, can you add wireless to FO2 so that I could tell Jeni that I'm not actually drinking beer and working at The Office? She'll believe me.

If you find yourself waiting in a long line at FO2 on the weekend, try and stop by Sue Moore's tasty lamb-casing, beef and pork sausages. Check out Jeni's posting on FO2, on why her father thinks that good girls shouldn't drink beer.

Father's Office II
3229 Helms Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 815-9820

Eat Drink Style Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles - A Spontaneous Hundred-Dollar Snack

Osteria Mozza Los Angeles

On the way back from Audrey Kawasaki's latest exhibit at the Bergamot Station, Mayoi Michi, J & I drove with rumbling stomachs. We started to flip through our mental rolodex of late-night food options in the Silver Lake adjacent.

Soup noodles at Torung or Ruen Pair in Thai Town?
Tacos Arizas, the taco truck that catered our first date in Echo Park?
Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada? I wish! They close too early.
Two Tacos for $.99 at Jack in the Crack?
Fried Chicken at The Prince or Toe Bang in Koreatown?
Pho Cafe in Silver Lake? No, thanks.
Raw oysters and tasty fries at Hungry Cat? We didn't feel like drinking.


We couldn't decide on a place because there was a con for every pro. But heading on the 10 towards the La Brea exit, we both shot a slight grin... as though we knew what would be best for us right now...

Pizza.

Specifically, Mario Batali's & Nancy Silverton's delicious pie at Pizzeria Mozza. Beautifully-crafted dough with minimal, yet sufficient, toppings – it's what makes the pizza more than a delectable snack. We parked on Highland and crossed the street but instead, focused our attention on Pizzeria Mozza's sister restaurant, Osteria Mozza, which focused more on pasta and rustic dishes... but no pizza. Since we had already tried their pizza, this would be a good chance to try out Osteria. This year, we've been good with eating at home and spending less on extracurricular activities. Osteria was our little reward for wearing halos on our head for 2 months.

The main criticism on Osteria Mozza is the advanced reservation one must make in order to eat there. God, so L.A. But we've learned that some places may do that to create a hype. It was already 10:45 pm and we were hungry. We walked in, not knowing what to expect, and felt the vibe of good ambiance. Dimly lit with sparse lighting, the constant sound of indistinct chatter and silverware clanking on porcelain plates made us feel that we are at the right place at the right time. Even at 10:45 pm. I walked up to hostess and asked if it was possible to get a bar seat without reservations. He glanced over his shoulder with his stylish Armani Exchange glasses, the Malcolm X-style ones, and pointed at the corner of the bar. Nice.

Osteria Mozza3

Osteria Mozza2

Osteria Mozza1

He pulled us towards the 'cheese bar', where we could see four line cooks hustling and bustling. Two were busy working the expensive-looking deli slicers that looked like they were imported from Italy. Another cook was meticulously plating what looked like a burrata cheese appetizer. And the last cook, a woman with frizzy brown hair in her 40s who had to be none other than, La Brea Bakery's Nancy Silverton. We looked at each other and felt even more excited to sit at the bar. She wore an apron that was different from everyone else's, almost like a midwest-style denim dress. Not the most stylish, but gave us the feeling of motherliness with her cooking. All she needed was one of those wooden, beaded necklaces made with stuff from Michael's. Nancy Silverton is another one of our favorite female chefs that cook more with soul than anything. She fits right up there with Suzanne Goin (Lucques & AOC), Alice Waters (Chez Panisse, Berkeley) and Judy Rodgers (Zuni Cafe, San Francisco). We stared at every one of her moves. You can see her in the photo above.

Osteria Mozza4

Osteria Mozza5

As we pulled our new replacement for our stolen camera, we heard a voice behind us saying:

"Which model is that?"

We turned back to see that it was a server with a joyful demeanor and hair that was 30 minutes away from needing a re-gelling session. Very nice guy. After hearing about his new camera from Costco, flight-attendant wife, recent travels to Dubai and Buenos Aires and love for cooking... we got our menus and had to order within 5 minutes. Because our server was so into food we let him pretty much do the ordering. Here's what we had.

Osteria Mozza Burrata Bacon

Burrata Cheese with Bacon, Braised Escarole & Caramelized Onions
This was our server's recommendation. It was larger than we had expected, because after all, this was just snack time, not a tasting menu. And honestly, after one bite of this, I knew why Mario looks the way he does. But you know what, that's a good thing. He is a man that is so passionate about his food and tacky orange Chuck's and clogs. He's not going to cheat you out of food; he's going to knock you out the Italian way. The combination of creamy burrata cheese, sweet caramelized onions, soupy escarole on grilled bread was decadent, yet tasty. I only wish that they had divided this dish into 6 normal sized pieces vs. 2 boatloads.

Osteria Mozza Grilled Scallops Lardo

Grilled Diver Scallops with Lardo & Pink Peppercorns
In the book, Heat, by Bill Buford, he describes a dinner party where one of the guests was Batali himself. The man is more than generous, as he came to the party prepared... with a case of wine and a slice of deli meat known as lardo. The marketing term for that is white prosciutto, and let's just through that bullshit. It's pure lard that has been smoked and cured... and it is heavenly. Sure anyone can grill diver scallops, but only Batali would finish it with the near-translucent slices of one of the many delicious parts of the pig. Fat so thin and ghostly, it almost melts on your tongue. These scallops, although small and expensive, were cooked beautifully and I'm still thinking about them. But that's me, I'm a scallop-whore. I wanted another 5 skewers, but at $16 for this dish, would you drop $100 on this?

Osteria Mozza Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus with Potatoes, Lemon & Celery
Before I selected the diver scallops, I was declined by my own server. And I love that honesty. He asked if we could change our minds and direct our attention to this instead. And what he told us next really proved that he was the type of knowledge every server should have. Basically, he said that we've never had this style of octopus before. Hmm, how so? First, they get 6 large octopi – pack them in a large hotel pan and fill it to the brim with some of the finest Italian olive oil with salt & pepper. But before it's slowly poached at 175 degrees, a secret ingredient is added. One that NO ONE would guess, well unless you work at Osteria Mozza. Four corks from wine bottles! Ok, so now we were excited. The plate arrived and we immediately dove in. If you told me it was slightly braised chicken, I would believe you. This preparation for the octopi really tenderized the meat. It was awesome and for us, the winner of the night. The server said that if you didn't add the wine corks, the meat would not come out this way. Something about an enzyme that leaks out from the wine corks. Alton, please analyze.

Osteria Mozza Oxtail Ragu Tagliatella

Oxtail Ragu with Tagliatelle
And finally, what J and I were both dying to try... Batali's handmade pasta. After a few occasions at Cube on La Brea, I was entirely hooked on fresh pasta. It's a completely different beast than the dried pasta. The server said this oxtail was cooked with Fresno chiles, San Marzano tomatoes and soffrito. Soffrito is basically an Italian version of mire poix. It varies in different countries. In Cuban, Caribbean and Puerto Rico, sofrito consists of red bell peppers, garlic and onions and is a standard base for stews, soups and sauces. I could totally smell the red bell peppers in this dish, so sweet and homey. I wound up the ribbon-like pasta and tender oxtail with my fork... and wow. Simply divine. The portion, at first, may look small, but you have to know that oxtail releases TONS of rat. Along with the sauce of the braised stew, you're guaranteed to get a flavor in every bite. We woke this dish up with some fresh black pepper. So good.

Although this was a pricey 'snack', it was more than worth it. Mario and Nancy's food is decadent and will put you right to sleep... with sauce stains on your shirt and a big smile on your face. Thanks for reading.

For those that have been to Angelini Osteria and Osteria La Buca, I'd love to hear your recommendations because I'm eating there next!

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 297-0100