See You At L.A. Times’ THE TASTE: September 1-3, 2012

Flavors of LA: Plan Check Smoked Jidori Fried Chicken – Photo credit to naftels on Flickr

It took a few tries, but it seems as though the flagship food, cocktails, wine & beer event of our city’s flagship publication may have this Labor Day weekend on lock. So head on over to Paramount Pictures this upcoming 3-day weekend for a celebration of delicious consumptions and libations. Tickets cost $65 per event and come with unlimited bites and swigs. See below for a preview of dishes, cocktails & people you’ll have to look forward to:

Field to Fork: Saturday, 9/1 • 11 am- 3 pm (21+)
Times Food Editor Russ Parsons and Chef Ray Garcia of FIG host this session inspired by fresh, local ingredients in celebration of seasonal dishes. Look forward to cooking demos, a conversation with local farmers and a chef’s challenge. You’ll experience tastes from Cook’s County, Sunny Spot, Picca, Mo-Chica, M.B. Post and Canele, who will be plating their Shelled Bean Salad.

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For Pigs: All You Can Eat Weekend Summer Comfort Food

Roy Choi’s Krispy Fried Chicken

AYCE. Or, All You Can Eat, for those not yet acclimated to the now-oft-used acronym. (You late-comers and non-Korean BBQ-grubbers, you.) But we’re not talking Old Country Buffet on this blog, nor the club tunes-pumping Manna, here. We’re talking gourmet all you can eat, now.

Take Roy Choi, for instance. The All You Can Eat Fried Chicken Picnic starts tomorrow on Saturday, July 14th and will go every weekend from 12-3 PM.

For $18 per person you get:

  • Krispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken – legs and thighs sous vide in spices, herbs & chilies dredged in rice flour and a splash of lemon juice
  • Supermarket Sweet Potato Deli Salad – smashed red garnet sweet potatoes, scallions, pickled shallot rings, whole grain mustard vinaigrette
  • Zucchini & Cabbage Cole Slaw – buttermilk, dijon dressing, fresh herbs

If you prefer the Korean beer of choice to wash down your poultry, add $10 for endless Hite.

See you there.

*****

Crawfish FTW

If you’re more of a shellfish and Zydeco band lover, head to The Foundry on Melrose for Crawfish Boil Sundays.

For your aural pleasure, the Mudbug Brass Band will be on-hand for that authentic vibe. And from 5:30 – 8 PM on Sundays, you’ll get crawfish and jambalaya for only $25 per person

Update/Correction:
Also offered are Hurricanes for $10 each and Jack Juleps (Jack Daniels with mint & sugar cubes) for $8. Each week, a different Po’ Boy will be featured (this week: catfish) for $9.

All this, hosted by Chef Eric Greenspan, is of course one of the best ways to spend a summer Sunday on Melrose.

Win-win-win.

Saturdays & Sundays

12 – 3 PM

No reservations

A-Frame
12565 Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
310.398.7700

Sundays

5:30 – 8 PM

The Foundry on Melrose
7465 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.651.0915

Michael Voltaggio Preempts Ink With Ink Sack

Banh Mi

There’s a sandwich shop that just debuted last week and thus far, it has sold out everyday ahead of its scheduled close time of 5 PM. Dare I suggest, however, that it’s worth getting there right at its 11AM opening?

Menu

While I’ve often complained about the selection of lunch options near my office, I was happy to find on opening day that ink.sack was an easy to drive north – I got there in 7.5 minutes. It’s a school-themed enclave with standing room only (if even that). Ink and Ink Sack sandwiches the dessert landmark, Sweet Lady Jane between them on the designer shopping-laden end of Melrose.

The menu features a manageable dozen items with just more than half being 6-inch sandwiches ($4-6 each) and the rest being crispy salt & vinegar potato chips, compressed fruit seasoned with chili and cookies. On a normal lunch, I can devour about two sandwiches with sides.

Sack lunch, indeed. (With Mexican Fruit)

My favorites were the Jose Andres, or “The Spanish Godfather” (Serrano ham, chorizo, lomo, Manchego) and the Banh Mi (pork cheek, chicharrones, pickled vegetables). I also really liked the Maple Turkey Melt, complete with Camembert, mustarda and arugula. The bread is also solid and while good quality, doesn’t overwhelm the small sandwich.

I’ve yet to try the two chicken varieties (with cold fried chicken and chicken liver mousse, each) but rest assured, for the amount of hype the Voltaggio name garners, the bottom line is that each sandwich is a reasonably priced dosage of delicious goodness. Just remember that they’re so popular, Ink Sack has been forced to institute a 6-sandwich maximum per person.

Don’t forget your fruits. (The veggies are in the sandwich.)

Wed – Sun
11 AM – 5 PM

ink.sack
8360 Melrose Ave., No. 107
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Plenty of Reasons to Love Osteria La Buca

Pork Meatballs, Calabrian Chilis, Almond Tomato Sauce

I’ll get right to the point. Let’s count the reasons, shall we?

Delicious, housemade charcuterie: Check. Fresh, housemade pasta: Check. Flavorful and tender-to-the-fork meatballs: Check. Tasty Neopolitan pizzas: Check. Former Porchetta and 10 Downing (NYC) chef Jason Neroni in the kitchen: Check.

Salumi: Chicken Liver Pork Pate, Porchetta di Testa, Terrina Campagnola, Whipped Lardo

I had the opportunity to try all this and more at a recent media lunch and came out glad that I played hooky devoted work PTO to doing so. Nothing is lost, however, on the starters. The ricotta croquettas topped with a touch of truffle honey haven’t lost their touch – still fluffy as ever - in the changeover. The excellent salumi that came out included a chicken liver and pork pate, porchetta di testa, terrina campagnola – and last, but certainly not least, a whipped lardo. I couldn’t get enough of that lardo, so of course I couldn’t complain when it also appeared on the lightly fried green tomatoes. But the meatballs! The meatballs! How unordinary they were, what with their flavor and texture. They were really divine. In between these bites were smoked and extra meaty olives and pickles as well as salted, pork fat almonds.

Parpadelle with Rabbit, Castelvetrano Olives, Porcini Mushrooms

Only after all of this did we really start lunch.

The pasta was delicious. Not oversauced, not too simplistic with just enough going on to keep things cohesive, interesting and more than enjoyable. The freshness of the angelotti, bucatini and parpadelle were quite as good as any I’ve had, with those pastas being made the same day in a specially designated “pasta room” (which doubles as a private dining room housing the chef’s table) just upstairs.

Feeling like a sweet-ish pasta? Go with the Sweet Corn Angelotti with Dungeness Crab, Lemon Basil and Butter. In the mood for a heavier variety? The Rabbit Parpadelle with Castelvetrano Olives and Porchini Mushrooms is also excellent. The Bucatini Carbonara comes with an irresistable poached egg and is seasoned with Marscarpone, Guanciale and Black Pepper, which gives this pasta a delicious kick.

Basil Ice Cream, Sauteed Strawberries

The pizza is delicious, though I must admit that my favorite tends to be the simplest variety – appropriate named “The Classic” at Osteria La Buca: Mozzarella, tomato, sea salt and basil is all you’ll find on this one. But the fennel sausage variety with ricotta, pickled jalapenos and garlic paste is also game. It all depends on what you like.

I must say, though, don’t forget dessert. Especially the refreshing Basil Ice Cream with Sauteed Strawberries. The Chocolate Budino with sea salt also stands on its own, and dare I say its simplicity gives Mozza’s a run for their money?

Osteria La Buca really is a delightful place to dine, with plenty of solid options. With its recent, refresher remodel setting the framework for Jason Neroni’s arrival, it’s apparent that they have aimed to step up their game. While I found the former La Buca warm and charming, it seems that Chef Neroni has tightened things up and dishes come out a bit more refined. Delicioso.

All food, wine and cocktails were hosted.

 

Tue – Thu: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
5:30 PM – 10:30 PM

Fri: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
5:30 PM – 11 PM

Sat 5:30 PM – 11 PM
Sun 5 PM – 10 PM

Osteria La Buca
5210 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323.462.1900

The 2011 L.A. Easter Brunch Round-Up

Quail Eggs at Kaohsiung Night Market | Photo: hk_traveller on Flickr

I don’t remember ever having given up anything for Lent. But I always have celebrated Easter in non-ritualistic fashion – just as I eat and celebrate life. Every day is a rebirth, right?

Did I mention that I love eggs?

I compiled a bunch of Easter Brunch specials around town. There are plenty of restaurants offering up 3-course prix fixe menus for Sunday morning, but a lot of them have some pretty solid choices.

Go ahead…you can scan this post for the bottomless champagne or mimosa spots. I totally understand.

(By the way, I can’t believe how Westward this list skews… Do Eastsiders not celebrate Easter?) 😉

Happy Easter!!

***

Eva (Beverly/Hancock Park): 12 -  8 PM

$39 per person.
Bottomless wine. 5-course prix fixe.

I know I said “brunch,” and I know Mark Gold calls this the “Eva Dinner Party,” but the noon start time has to count for something, doesn’t it? You get all of the following: Deviled Eggs, Nicoise Salad with Olive Relish and Roast Peppers, Chicken “Pallard” with Arugula and Mustard, Warm Potato Salad, Prime Skirt Steak, Grilled Asparagus and Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Creme Fraiche. I know. Amazing. This is where I’ll be…sometime during Easter Day.

7458 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036, 323.634.0700

Chaya Brasserie (Downtown, Beverly Hills, Venice): 11 AM – 3 PM

$37 per person, $15 per young adult.
Bottomless champagne. 3-course prix fixe.

You get a couple choices for your 3-course prix fixe, all menus of which vary according to location! Be sure to peep the right Chaya outpost for your menu.

A few highlights from what I can see on all three menus include French Toast with Granola Crust, Kabocha Squash Ricotta Cheese Gnocchi, Grilled New York Steak and Fries with Poached Egg, Pancetta-wrapped Gulf Shrimp with Provencal Grits, Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Cheese Tart. I think the Downtown location is where to be!

525 South Flower, Los Angeles, CA 90017, 213.236.9577

8741 Alden Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90048, 213.859.8833

110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291, 310.396.1179

Obika (Century City): 10 AM – 4 PM

$25 per adult, $15 per child under 12.
Comes with one mimosa or glass of Prosecco. Buffet-style plus one family-style pasta.

Not feeling the prix fixe but don’t want any hassle? Obika’s doing it up buffet style – at the mall. Mozzarella di Bufala along with a selection of Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon, Assorted, Salumi, Caponata with Pan Carsau, Artichoke Ricotta Quiche with Thyme and Mint, Ricotta Mousse and four (yes, four) flavors of Tirimisu will all be available. In addition, your table will get to pick one choice of pasta served family style, including Handmade Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage, Lasagnetta with Peas and Tagliolini with Artichoke and Mint.

10250 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067, 310.556.2452

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Two Food Truck Events You Should Know About: Antojitos de mi Abuelita at Street Food Mondays, Cast Iron Gourmet & Frysmith at Black Boar Bar

Antojitos de mi Abuelita

Everyone knows Los Angeles is a wonderful place to eat, with unmatched culinary diversity – and mobility – found anywhere else in the world. Fortunately, there are two food events happening today and tomorrow with focuses on food trucks – O.G. and nouveau – that bring you their goods in a special setting for one night only. If I weren’t out of town, I’d personally attend these two events. Instead, you’ll have to go in my place, represent and see what they’re all about.

One is brought to you by the celebrated return of Street Food Mondays, curated by Bill Esparza (Street Gourmet LA) and Evan Kleiman (owner of Angeli Caffe). Antojitos de mi Abuelita, a food truck representing Mexico City-style antojitos, or masa-based “little whims,” will be serving up “Comida corrida,” or a 3-course meal for only $28.

The other is a collaboration between Cast Iron Gourmet and Frysmith food truck – more on that after the jump.

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The Dionicess VIII Double Header: The Bruery Lunch & Dinner at The Foundry on Melrose

The people (and The Bruery beers) you need to know: Nate Sellergren, Dave Watrous, Gev Kazanchyan, Chef Eric Greenspan, Randy Clemens and Ben Weiss

I’m always game for a Dionicess event. What that means is, pairings of top-notch brews with delicious food. But this time, the ante has been upped and the result looks to surpass anyone and everyone’s expectations.

Late February’s extravaganza yields not one meal but two – in the same day. It’s Placentia-based Famille Rue’s brewery, The Bruery, taking center stage at The Foundry on Melrose. I think the only way to do justice to this amazing event is to go for all 10 courses and make a day of it, because $115 is sooo worth Chef Greenspan’s amazing food, alone.

And the beer. At this event, only, will you be able to experience 2 beers not normally distributed past The Orange Curtain plus 3 others that are limited release or non-release special edition brews. The Bruery is one of my favorite local breweries – or anywhere – and along with their Provisions store, ties my dentist as the most common reason I will make a drive to Orange County.

Take a gander at the menu below for what is in store on this day:

Lunch Menu (The Bruery beer pairing)

  • Goat Cheese and Orange Rillettes / flatbread / herbed oil (Orchard White)
  • Endive Salad / taleggio / Asian pear / hazelnut oil (Saison Rue)
  • Confit of Rabbit / lemon / date / olive / harissa (Loakal Red)
  • Pecan Coconut and Cocoa Tartlet / bourbon ice cream / corn flakes feuilletine (Very Rare Dessert Beer)

Dinner Menu (The Bruery beer pairing)

  • Charred Mackerel / grapefruit juice / oil (Saison de Lente)
  • Crispy Skin Loup de Mer / spicy lemongrass broth / siriacha kimchee mushroom ragout (Mischief)
  • Fried Chicken Oysters / cheddar cheese / biscuit bread pudding / collard greens / honey & black pepper gastrique (Premiere)
  • Mascarpone and Black Pepper Gelato Quenelle / strawberry gooseberry cranberry compote / balsamic reduction / tarragon (Very Rare & Limited Release Beer)
  • Duck Breast “Reuben” / mustard / sauerkraut (Rugbrod)
  • Dark Chocolate Crepes / burnt orange marmalade / cinnamon and nutella ice cream (Very Rare Dessert Beer)

If you have scheduling conflicts and must only go to either lunch or dinner, separate pricing options are available. So go forth and reserve your space now, because spots will fill up! And do report back so I can live vicariously. Loves are loves, and this love of beer and food unfortunately conflicts with my love of snowboarding (I’ve committed to Colorado).

Enjoy.

Sunday, February 27, 2010

Tickets:
Lunch – $45 (1 PM)
Dinner – $85 (6 PM)
Both (no repetition in course or brew) – $115

The Foundry on Melrose
7465 Melrose Avenue.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Favorite Dish: Osteria La Buca’s Osso Buco Risotto

Osso Buco Risotto

There’s this dish at a place that I just learned is within delivery distance of mine. It’s really delicious, and just when you thought it was enough to cross “osso buco risotto” or “veal rice dish” off your list – you are pleasantly surprised by another push, a kick of flavor at the end. A spice. Sweet green peas…relief. Throughout, you are delivered that creamy, slow-simmered richness. It’s more of a flavor than texture study, but it’s such a good one that you want to keep on reading.

All the reasons you wouldn’t have ordered the risotto entree in fear of the one-note go out the window with Osteria La Buca’s Osso Buco Risotto. Say that ten times fast. Or, just order it – it’s off-menu. You can also try a reliable plate of burrata, prosciutto and tomatoes to start. What also was a big hit was another off-menu pizza with figs, kale and tomatoes – but it would be unfair to go further into that. Just consider this a vouch for their other items on the menu.

The best thing is that the prices are reasonable – perfect for that quick dinner delivered straight to my place with zero emissions and zero guilt. And if you feel like dining there, the atmosphere is pleasant – and is even about to get upgraded at the end of the month. Until then, it’s painted pink in solidarity in the fight against breast cancer and proceeds go straight to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. What a great cause and reason to dine at Osteria La Buca – all the while enjoying some great rustic.

All food was hosted.

Osteria La Buca
5210 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323.462.1900

Lunch
Tue – Fri: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Dinner
Tue – Thur: 5:30-10:30 PM
Fri – Sat: 5:30 – 11 PM
Sun: 5 – 10 PM

Delivery on a Zero electric motorcycle within 1.5 mile radius.

Why L.A. Beer Week? Highlights From and Reflections On A Celebration of Suds

Dogfish Head Sah'tea Paired With Salted Cod Brandade at The Foundry on Melrose

It’s a beautiful thing when you can find a beer – or, what’s more, an entire beer culture – right in our own backyard. And the latter became increasingly evident as L.A. Beer Week events were curated and celebrated around the city. It was a beautiful thing to witness Angelenos walking away from events, bars and gatherings ever more appreciative and knowledgable about suds the past ten days.

Now, there were plenty more people with better stamina than I who attended probably double or even quadruple the number of events that I did – and props to you whether you’re also press or a beer distributor by trade. Whatever the degree of which you decided to participate, one thing was certain: Beer Week is an exciting time to be in Los Angeles. Here’s why:

  • You may witness a celebrity chef’s decision to revamp his beer program. Nobody is exempt from learning – nobody – and at the first ever Dogfish Head beer dinner held in Los Angeles, Chef Eric Greenspan confessed that his appreciation for craft beers has been renewed since his college brewing days. Now, at The Foundry on Melrose, you can find a highlighted craft beer for the month paired with an entree expressly by Chef Greenspan, himself.
  • You get to experience the evolution of a dessert that just a couple years ago never even existed. Yes, I’m talking about the now-popular beer float. There were four such creative renditions of beer floats at Food GPS’ Beer Float Showdown II with Boneyard Bistro‘s Floris Apple with salted Bourbon and cinnamon ice cream taking the prize. A close second was Simmzy’s cherry pie rendition … oh, was it so hard to vote for the winner!!
  • Hot Knivez's Brugge Rodenbach Cherry-Ciabatta Grilled Cheese with The Bruery's Oude Tart
  • It’s a great occasion to try an L.A. beer you’ve never tried and/or visit an L.A. pub you have never been to. Beer is really hot in L.A. right now, and Beer Week is only helping. One only needs to reference the entrance of The Bruery a couple years ago and Eagle Rock Brewery one year ago into the foray. Or the opening of Nibble Bit Tabby just last Spring. Naja’s Place, the place where all beer taps go to heaven, ranks up there as one of the only reasons I will visit the South Bay.
  • You get to experience food-beer pairings that blow your mind. Like the Dogfish Head Sah’tea paired with Chef Greenspan’s Smoked Cod Brandade with potato, cauliflower and eggplant. The juniper berries, black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and black pepper in the Sah’tea were highlighted so well against the salty brandade (yet tempered by the cauliflower and eggplant), I’m salivating just thinking about it again. Another mind-blowing pairing was the Hot Knivez‘s Brugge Rodenbach cherry-ciabatta grilled cheese paired with The Bruery’s Oude Tart, a sour Red Ale which had dark fruit and oak notes that matched the Rodenbach-soaked cherries in the homemade ciabatta so deliciously. The Hot Knivez-Bruery Symposium at Verdugo Bar was another delightful event.
  • Floris Apple, Bourbon-salted caramel-cinnamon ice cream and Green Apple Coated with Caramel Cinnamon Crumble Beer Float
  • You may have dibs on the first batch – of something – to exist or hit the West Coast. The beer industry knows that L.A. Beer Week is the place to be, so you best know it, too. The Delawareans at Dogfish Head sent over its 10% ABV Burton Baton, an oak-aged old ale and Imperial IPA blend, to Los Angeles just for this event.
  • You get to try rare beers you have never tried – or even heard of – before. File this under Category: Obvious. Yesterday, at the culiminating event of all L.A. Beer Week events, the Union Station party in which you got unlimited 4 oz. pours for $40, you could taste a Samuel Adams sour ale in one sip and Craftsman Triple Sage in the next – with Victory Brewing Company’s version of Saison du Buff in the next. Be sure to walk around the party with at least one beer geek on hand (and mini stein in the other) to expedite the best recommendations and tastes to your lips.

It’s an exciting time for beer right now in L.A., and with this being only the second beer week – and a super successful one – I can see the excitement only growing. And brewing. 😉 I’d like to thank everyone I’ve bumped into along the way for making it a great few days to suds it up. There’s really nothing like great beer and great company.

October 7 – 17, 2010

Stay tuned for 2011 dates

L.A. Beer Week

Venues all over Los Angeles

Scoops Debuts Beer Ice Cream Flavors Today

Potential Flavors for Beer Week

We’re in the middle of LA Beer Week and that means it’s time for Tai Kim’s beer flavored ice cream to debut. Yes – that means that today, perfected versions of flavors like Unibroue Quelquechose With Cherry, Guinness Tiramisu, Chimay Premiere With Apricot, Firestone IPA Union Jack With Mocha, Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale With Hazelnut and The Bruery Autumn Maple With Molasses will be at Scoops on Heliotrope for all beer and ice cream enthusiasts to enjoy. (Though, I’m told that The Bruery’s Autumn Maple may be too hard to acquire to make this flavor, unfortunately.)

Tai Scooping Ice Cream

A couple of weeks ago, a few bloggers and I were invited to preview the making of these special flavors. It was so fun to see Tai at his machine, pouring in his special concoctions and, of course, the beer. Curious for more? Be sure to pop on over to Caroline On Crack’s post on this preview for her great videos of the action. My personal favorite was definitely the Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale With Hazelnut. What can I say? The beer flavorings are very subtle – but I I’m a sucker for hazelnut, and it was one of the most potent flavors and the wheaty tangerine was a nice spin on things.

So head on over to Scoops today, and find out one of the sweetest ways to celebrate LA Beer Week. I’m curious myself to see what flavors actually came out of all that experimentation.

Beer flavors debut Monday, October 11, 2010

Mon – Sat, 12 – 10 PM
Sun 2 – 6 PM

Scoops
712 N. Heliotrope Drive
Los Angeles, California 90029
323.906.2649