Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

Eat Drink Style Palate, Glendale - Sunday Brunch with Cut Chemist & DJ Octavio Becerra

Palate Glendale Sunday Brunch

Last Sunday, we were invited by our wine connoisseur friend MM for a Sunday Brunch at Palate. He first told us about Palate back in July and since then, I think we've been there at least a dozen times. Besides Chef Octavio Becerra's usual assortment of fine California cuisine dishes and extensive list of wine, he started serving up delicious vinyl on Sundays. This time, with a super special guest dj... Cut Chemist of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli. At exactly 12 pm, the wine started flowing. 1 minute earlier and we'd be in the alchi category.

Palate Octavio Becerra

How many Chefs out there know how to go back and forth between cooking and spinning?

Palate Cut Chemist

Bottles and bottles later, the Chemist decides to show up around 4 pm, relieving both Chef and his sommelier, who was also in the rotation. They all spun soul/funk.

Palate Cut Chemist

Palate Porkfolio

Palate Belgian

Palate Pig Cheeks

For Sunday Brunch, one dish is featured for $12 along with a small selection of appetizers and his mason jars, which he is known for. Last time I ate at Palate, I fell in love with his pork trotter dish... an interestingly shaped 'sausage' filled with ground pork feet and pork shoulder. I could eat TWO of them. I asked Chef he had any left in the kitchen, but offered up this instead. Moist and flavorful, what else can you ask for with a braised dish.

Palate Roy Choi

After speaking at a UCLA conference that same week, Chef Becerra invited Kogi BBQ's Roy Choi to come by and hang out. He along with Jonathan Gold and Anthony Bourdain were on the same panel. As Roy waited for his food, he perused Becerra's library for some literature.

Palate Braised Oxtail

Jeni ordered the Braised Oxtail which was simply awesome. Marinated in soy sauce and mirin. About 6 hours later, we found ourselves still drinking and munching on food. I love the idea of a Sunday Brunch, but it's super easy to lose your sense of time, as well as your mind. Sunday Suppers, every Sunday. Thanks for reading.

Jeni's posting on Sunday Brunch.

Eat Drink Style Carlsbad Aquafarm - An Oyster Purveyor

Carlsbad Aquafarm

My first encounter with a raw oyster was about eight years ago and I remembered feeling curious and anxious as I stared at this soft, slimy-gray creature that resembled a bodily organ. It was peacefully floating in a bed of salmon roe and fresh uni, and drowned by a nameless sake. It wasn't on the half-shell but it was definitely a real oyster. My friends passed the glass to me and we all held it up in a strange, gratuitous toast to friendship and whatever oceanic concoction brewing in my glass.

First, the taste of the cheap sake. Gross.
Second, an avalanche of salty salmon roe and mushiness that is uni. Mmmmm.
And finally, the soft foreign object that feels like an oblong egg yolk. *Gag*

This is the point in time where your brain has the finger on the gag reflex switch in your body. It will either project the foreign object as your eyes well up in tears, or it will let it go down smoothly like a fat kid on a water park slide. But instead of swallowing it all, I sank my teeth into that creature as though I hated it. And to my surprise, my eyes lit up in sheer happiness. This. Was. Delicious. I watched as my other friends uttered their enjoyment for that same oyster. The next question I asked was, "can we do some more?" We ended up ordering oysters on the half shell, not that circus bullshit in the glass. And it was that day that I developed an appreciation for one of the world's most unique, pure and delicious foods – the oyster.

To me, there is nothing hotter than a raw bar. Unadulterated food, tasty beer and good company – that's all that's needed for a good time. As an oyster predator, I love eating at Swan Oyster Depot and Bar Crudo in San Francisco, Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City and of course, Los Angeles's Hungry Cat. I also heard that Anisette in Santa Monica has a decent raw bar. But the problem is, eating oysters outside can prove to be a bad move during this recession. J wasn't too happy with my $90 tab at Grand Central Oyster Bar... a place that touts over 38 types of oysters and nearly 200 types of wine. Bad bad bad!

But I found an economic solution to one of my many bad habits. J and I were checking out the Hollywood Farmers Market for the first time a few weeks back and like a person seeing Machu Picchu through the sharp, jungle brush for the first time, I found what I was looking for: a vendor selling fresh oysters on the spot.

Carlsbad Aquafarm
, located in uh, Carlsbad, comes to the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Saturdays and Hollywood Farmers Market on Sundays. Rob of Carlsbad Aquafarms drives up each day at 5 am with a van full of seafood candy. On this day, Rob had four types of oysters on display: Catalinas, Lunas, Carlsbad Blondes and Endless Summers. In addition to oysters, CA offers California Ocean mussels, Sunburst clams, medley mixes and live scallops (call in advance and he'll bring the following week).

Carlsbad Aquafarm Catalina Oysters

The going rate for a half dozen oysters on the half shell is $15. Not good considering I can do at least 18 on my own in a single sitting. But thanks to candyman Rob, you can bring home a dozen oysters for only $9.99. That's $0.83 a piece vs. $2.50 a piece outside. For $2, you can sample any of CA's oysters.

Carlsbad Aquafarm Rob Shucking Oysters

Carlsbad Aquafarm Rob Shucking Oysters

Carlsbad Aquafarm Rob Shucking Oysters

Shucked Oysters

That day, I ended up buying 3.5 dozens of oysters and threw them in a cooler. I immediately called my oyster friend/ramen whore friend, Rameniac, and explained to him the deeds that needed to be done today. 2 hours later, Rameniac and his friend showed up. We headed over to Silver Lake Wine for something to pair with the oysters. George, formerly the sommelier at Campanile, immediately knew what to recommend. I told him the oysters were briny with a cucumber finish. He suggested these.


Muscadet Sevre Et Maine
What's interesting about this wine is that, like oysters, these grapes are grown in the area where the rivers meet the oceans. This is an area that is not too cold nor too warm, and for oysters, this is the optimal condition for proliferation. According to George, this is a favorite with shellfish.


Paco & Lola Albarino
I don't know why he picked this one. Maybe because the label is kind of cool and the fact that it's from the Basque Country. This one has a strong floral aroma which would be good with an oyster that is delicate in taste.

Before moving on, I wanted to talk about the 'process' of eating an oyster. I learned about this from the wonderful book A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in North America by Rowan Jacobsen, and it changed the way I eat oysters.

There are three things that happen as you eat an oyster.

(1) As you hold the oyster, you taste the liquor first. And it'll either be sweet or briny.

(2) You then use a fork to push the oyster into your mouth and then you chew 2-3 times. The second your teeth come down on the oyster, you'll experience a nice pop like the yolk on a sunny side up egg. You want the internal fluids to spill out and you want to feel its texture. And it'll be a sweet or creamy taste.

(3) Once the fluids mix with the liquor, there will be a final finish.

If you completely down the oyster and liquor without chewing, you've missed the whole point of eating an oyster. And the usage of lemon juice and mignonette is most ideal for eating oysters because saltiness/brininess is cancelled out by citric acid. Horseradish and hot sauce will mask the integrity of the oyster.

Endless Summer & Luna Oysters

Endless Summers
Rob remembered me and immediately offered this to me because he didn't have it last time I was there. If you go up to the photo with Rob holding the oyster shell, that's the Endless Summer. And it's huge. They are typically deep cupped meaning the oyster has more room to grow and has a lot more liquor, which people love or hate. Upon opening this, you can't help but back up a little. Although it's not as big as a Belon (shell the size of a hand!) or European Flat, this would definitely be in the 3-bite tier. I got the oyster ready for the 3-step process.

(1) Very briny liquor.
(2) Fresh, crunchy texture. Like a very weak bamboo shoot.
(3) Strong cucumber finish. Wow. The reason a lot of oysters will have a melon finish, according to Rowan Jacobsen, is that the starches produced in the oysters have the same molecular build as that of a melon.

Like the popular Kumamoto oyster grown in California and Pacific Northwest, these are mildly fruity and sweet. These are very easy to eat and usually considered the 'introductory' oyster. Lunas have a similar taste and to me, they are almost thinner and smaller than Kumamotos.

(1) Mildly sweet liquor.
(2) Soft texture. Not much bite.
(3) Light, sweet finish. These are small and have a very delicate taste.

Carlsbad Blonde & Catalina Oysters

Carlsbad Blondes
These oysters are called 'blonde' because their shell is more yellow vs. the green/brown shells you usually see.

(1) Mild, briny liquor.
(2) Soft texture.
(3) Very light metallic taste. But right away, a soft cucumber finish that isn't as pronounced as that of the Endless Summer.

These are similar in size to the Carlsbad Blondes.

(1) Mild, briny liquor.
(2) Medium texture.
(3) Soft cucumber finish.

Extinct Oysters

After an hour and a half, we had 39 oysters and 2 bottles of wine. And we could've had more. Much more.

Say hi to Rob and his candy of the sea on Saturdays at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market and on Sundays at the Hollywood Farmer's Market.

What are your favorite oysters? And if you're from outside of Los Angeles, please share the names of your local oyster goldmines.

Thanks for reading.

Carlsbad Aquafarm
4600 Carlsbad Blvd
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 438-2444
Tours offered from M-F 8am - 5 pm

Eat Drink Style Palate Food & Wine, Glendale - Dining in David Lynch's Dining Room

Palate Glendale Menu

***Update 8/8/08***
Since writing this posting, I actually came here another two times in the SAME week. I've added a few more dishes and sat in a different part of this large restaurant. Right now, they are having wine tastings from 5-8 pm on Fridays and 2-5 on Saturdays for a limited time only. I can tell you that the back dining/bar area by the wine shop is a ton of fun. And not to mention that the flight of wines are complimentary. Sign me up please.

You know when you're a kid, your brain is like a sponge – soaking in everything and anything around you. You're told certain things. You're told to act a certain way. You're told to trust whatever elders tell you. Naivete is a part of the learning process that dissipates at different rates for everyone. As for soaking up things, I had a hard time putting disturbing things I have seen in the trash can side of my memory. There are two movies that have not left the better half of me because they are just not right – 'The Shining' and David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks'. Actually, I consider all of David Lynch's films to be unsuitable for a child's bedtime story. I can't remember what 'Twin Peaks' was about but there was this one scene that was just STRANGE. There was a midget in this large room decked out in black & white checkered tiling. He came from behind some heavy red drapes and insisted the viewer to sit down next to his green formica table. It made no sense – to anyone but Lynch of course. I don't know why I found it so disturbing but I still remember it vividly. And on a warm evening in July, Jeni and I decided to go out for dinner for our 2-year anniversary. It was a promising night of delectable food from an ex-Patina chef by the name of Octavio Becerra, wine from a place that not only sold and served wine, but also provided storage for those that have exhausted their Vinotemps. But all that was to change upon stepping into a place called Palate Food & Wine in Glendale.

I stepped in with J and we were immediately puzzled by the decor of this place. Very unique! All of a sudden I felt like I was in a David Lynch set. To my left was the hostess' stand. I was expecting that same midget man with a mini suit and hat to come around the corner of the stand any minute now, tapping me on my knee... asking if I had reservations and leading me to some green formica table. The dining area gave off this strong pink hue. The black & white checkered floors were now black & pink checkers. Large canvas prints with something that resembled a close-up of a biochemical lab experiment. Giant vases of grapes that only seemed to live in Alice's Wonderland. Lastly, large candles that seemed to make their way here from a Transylvanian yard sale. But I've never been into decor, so I'll have to toss the Lynch card out on this one because we heard SO MUCH about the food.

Palate Glendale Interior

Palate Glendale Candle

Palate Glendale Bartender - Antoine

Given the option to sit at the bar or eat with David Lynch, we chose the former. We were kindly greeted by the bartender, or sommelier, Antoine, who looked sharp and knowledgeable on wines. The wine prices here at Palate are really reasonable. We started off with a bottle of riesling that cost no more than $40, but was so nice and crisp. Just ask Antoine for it by name...
Schäfer-Fröhlich Riesling Spätlese Halbtrocken Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen.

Palate Glendale Bread

What kind of butter is this? It can't be Darigold, that's for sure because it was served at the perfect temperature with a dash of Fleur de Sel. Nice!

Palate Glendale Porkfolio

I really find food puns annoying, but you know what, because the selection here was very good, I'm letting it slide. Included in this 'porkfolio' (*sigh), were prosciutto san daniele, speck di alto adige and salumi gentile.

Palate Glendale Nectarines

Something Pickled... Nectarines
This goes very well with the following dish. Pickled, sweet and textural.

Palate Glendale Mason Jars

Potted Berkshire Pork - Mason Jar

I didn't know you could mason-jar things other than jam or honey. I found my new pork-love and it's totally not good for you. These are called 'pork rillettes' and are a type of force-meats. Pork is chopped up, salted for a few hours to overnight and then cooked in its own fat. After it is shredded, it is refridgerated, allowing the fat to coagulate, creating a creamy padding of fat all around the beef. I watched J as she used her butterknife to smother some pork paste on to the bread, add cheese and porkfolio on it for 'garnish'. How can you not love a woman that is so sure about the decisions she makes? This was absolutely delicious. I put Josef Centeno's (formerly of Lot 1 Cafe) right behind Chef Becerra's.

Palate Glendale Rabbit

Lapin (Rabbit) - Mason Jar
Another deadly yet lovely sin bottled up in a jar. The rabbit tends to have a leaner, lighter flavor to it compared to the gluttonous Berkshire pork. I did enjoy this and will eventually be trying the whole potted collection. But for me, I'd pick pork over almost anything.

Palate Glendale Albacore Salad

Albacore Confit Salad
Antoine explained that the tuna is 'confit-ed' overnight. The result is a moist, chicken-like taste to the albacore tuna. The salad is brought together with a VERY bright vinaigrette which really wakes the palate up like a hair-of-the-dog drink at 7 am.

Palate Glendale Summer Truffles

Summer Truffles with Poached Egg & Cream
Saying no to this dish is like turning down a double date with Natalie Portman and Scartlett Johannson. I fall weak when it comes to anything with eggs. The wine director kindly explained to me how this classic French dish is made. In a little jar, an egg is added to cream along with romano cheese. It is then tempered in boiling water for 7 minutes and then garnished with paper thin slices of summer truffles. I'm not really into truffles because of its strong aroma, but the appropriate usage of it in this simple, yet classic dish makes palatable sense. I can eat a dozen of these. I watched J, who doesn't really like eggs, eat hers and waited for her to pass it on to me. Smile.

Palate Glendale Corn Ravioli

Corn Ravioli
Another dish I cannot say no to... corn PLUS ravioli. Chef Becerra told us that before he worked for Patina, he worked in France and Italy and I'm pretty sure this is a dish that was made shortly after his trip back to the U.S. The ravioli dough is really nice – chewy and textural from the quick boiling. The corn inside is pureed and goes well with the butteriness of this dish.

Palate Glendale Scallops

Seared Scallops & Shelled Beans
Come to think of it, there isn't anything out there that I WON'T eat. I know I love eggs and corn, but I forgot to add that I adore scallops. To me, they bring back that nostalgic feeling of eating tater tots in 3rd grade. Another great dish.

Palate Glendale Veal Breast

Veal Breast and Spätzle
As I was shooting this photograph, the compound butter on top started to melt and slowly glided over the veal cliff. This is a sexy dish. Braised veal, chewy spätzle, spinach and a savoy reduction sauce. Excuse me, Antoine, where is the nearest hotel room?

Palate Glendale Pork Belly

Pork Belly with Faro & Cherries
And this is the reason why I rip up my bloodtest results. I live for pork belly. Before we even looked at the menu, we knew we were going to order this because it had mentioned so many times on reviews. And I could see why. Although the ratio of fat to pork was a bit unbalanced, the crisp texture of the perfectly fried skin, reduction sauce and moistness of the meat made me wish I could dive into this. I have to say, out of the 10-12 times I've tried some variation of pork belly, this one makes me kow-tow to the chef. Given another bottle of wine from Antoine, I might have done that, much to J's disappointment.

Palate Glendale Rabbit2

I love rabbit but almost everytime I eat it, it's dry. *Dylan gets down from his stool and assumes the kow-tow position* Yes, another delectable dish. You can see the beautiful pink hue of the meat, a sign of well cooked game. Also within the meat, I believe is ground rabbit mixed with nuts and herbs. All this plated over some buttery polenta.

Our bill came out to $140. If you take out the two bottles of wine, we pretty much only spent $60-70 on food, and we were full. Palate definitely offers some great food and wine at great prices. We then met the manager, who gladly gave us a tour of the restaurant, wine store and wine vault area. I can tell you that the Lynch decor didn't stop there, but it all made sense. The decor was a reflection of the variety of palatable foods Becerra offers. The decor is unique, but not tacky. The flavors are everywhere, but done in a unique way. Nothing is too over the top, and nothing is too dull. I 'got it' afterwards. I was also very drunk.

Palate Glendale Lamb

Palate Glendale Wineshop2

Palate Glendale Wineshop

Palate Glendale Octavio Becerra

Two thumbs up for the people of Palate Food & Wine. I have you marked down on my calendar for a future dinner very soon and I can't wait. I highly recommend sitting at the bar and talking to Antoine – he's cool. Thanks for reading. And thank you David Lynch for disturbing the hell out of me for so many years.

Palate Food & Wine
933 South Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204
(818) 662-9463

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...


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