Mushroom Tasting at Desert Rose

Mushroom flan with Gruyere and Crispy Kataifa

Citysearch LA, in their latest Eat, Drink, Learn effort gave us the opportunity to taste gourmet mushrooms prepared with recipes as unique as the mushrooms themselves. The setting was Desert Rose on Hillhurst, normally serving Lebanese fare and the occasion was the launch of Veggie Thing, a website showcasing all lovely things vegan. I am not vegan myself but thought all varieties of the not-plant-nor-animal that were served, however, were delicious – after all, they were gourmet and were provided courtesy of Hotko Kinoko. The “exercise” gave me a real appreciation that funghi can be flavor-packed (and not just because they’re truffles) and perhaps we should come to demand that quality.

Beech mushroom lentil soup with smoked paprika oil and baby spinach

The starter soup was so delicious, I could have requested another bowl. It was a Beech mushroom lentil soup with smoked paprika oil and baby spinach. The smokeyness was subtle yet savory because combined with Beech mushrooms. Lentils were just weighty enough to remind you how good it is for you, with the spinach garnish complimenting the bowl well.

All dishes in the tasting menu were delightfully vegan except the mushroom flan (first picture) – which demonstrated the appeal of having a mushroom-based recipe if one had such dietary requirements. They can also compliment sweet dishes – the lone dish in the tasting of which was Medjool dates stuffed with Maitake mushrooms, walnuts and Daiya cheese. There were a few misses, like a mushroom-filled cabbage roll and a few falafel that I thought were over-fried and a bit too tough – but the hits were savory and a good platform to reexamine the quality of mushrooms.

Desert Rose
1700 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Beer & Bites: Cheese Pairing at Verdugo Bar

Are you kidding me?! I’m from Wisconsin. When I was told that I would drink beer specifically matched to a cheese counterpart – six times – there was no hesitation. I could feel the accent come back. My short O’s opened up and my A’s knocked back. I was ready to taste the high life up in this grille again, twice over. But in Echo Park. And there would be no bratwurst served. And we would not be tailgating.

Just the beer and just the cheese, packaged in tasty little bites.

I met up with H.C. of LA OC Foodie for the Citysearch-hosted tasting and we were eventually joined by Tony of Sinosoul as well as his better half. Food was provided by Alex and Evan of Hot Knives, whom I thought did an excellent job not just pairing the beers up but just providing unexpected food. (I guess they should know cheese pretty well if they’ve won the Grilled Cheese Invitational 5 separate times.)

I became giddy at the slices of apricots topped with chevre (goat cheese) placed at our settings even before we sat down. Dogfish Head’s Festina Pêche – a sour brew made with fresh peaches – comes from Delaware and was great with the light cheese and subtly sweet apricot. A nice start to the tasting.

Next came out a gazpacho blanco with Caña de Oveja – a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain – over crostini. The great thing about it was the pairing was made with Eagle Rock Brewery’s Witbier – made with coriander and orange peel – and which is Eagle Rock Brewery’s first beer. The debut of an East LA brewery was happening amongst us! By chance, I was also sitting next to its co-owner Jeremy Raub and so had many congratulations to give him as I really enjoyed the beer, which was really refreshing.

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