When you get approached to reminisce about a certain time and place, nay, a certain chef and his concept – on-camera – you know you’ve been hit with something very special. In the present age of reality TV, of course, you might have suspicions it could be exploitive, but then you know the show. And multi-Emmy-award-winning Mind of a Chef just so happens to be one of your favorite shows on cooking and the culture of food.
Furthermore, when you hear that the particular episode you’re asked to be a part is about LudoBites, and you’ll get to experience Ludo recreating a few dishes right in his own brand new kitchen. you know that it’s going to be good. There’s just so much to unpack, there.
If you’ve been following the third season of The Taste on ABC, you’re familiar with contestant Vanessa Lauren of Team Bourdain. Eliminated on last week’s semi-finale (ep. 6), Vanessa has somewhat since defected to Team Ludo – in the sense that since taping this season’s episodes, she’s been in Ludo Lefebvre’s kitchens at Trois Mec and now Petit Trois. I sat down with Vanessa Lauren and Chef Ludo the other day in anticipation of The Taste finale, which airs tonight.
Therefore, it would be cruel of me to rehash that participants include Nancy Silverton (Mozza), Ludo Lefebvre (Trois Mec), Josef Centeno (Bäco Mercat, Bar Ama), Roy Choi (Kogi BBQ, Chego, A-Frame, Sunny Spot), Jordan Kahn (Red Medicine) and Carolynn Spence (Chateau Marmont) as well as Parisian chefs such as Inaki Aizpitarte (Le Chateaubriand), Gregory Marchand (Frenchie), Jean-François Piège (Restaurant Jean-François Piège) and for VIPs, Sven Chartier (Saturne). …And yet!
Q: What do Marvel & Capcom video games and food trucks all have in common? A: Very little
But there’s no better excuse to celebrate your anticipation for either the new Marvel vs. Capcom 3 video game and/or Chef Ludo Lefebvre (LudoBites) and Chef Eric Greenspan’s (The Foundry on Melrose) awesome food than to attend tomorrow’s tailgate launch party at Kim Sing Theatre. It’s from 11 AM – 3 PM so it’s prime time for lunch or linner.
Food and drinks will be served offÂ food trucks for this event and you’ll get to try out the brand new video game on-the-spot. A live DJ will be spinning tunes to help create that unique gaming atmosphere. What’s on the food menu, you ask? Dishes and bites inspired by the video game, itself.
So come out and check out your potentially new gaming addiction while enjoying food from two of the most talented (and yes, famous) chefs in the city. See you there!
It must be stressed that when one scores a reservation to LudoBites, practically every dish is essential. But that’s not to take away from my having been especiallyÂ inspired byÂ Ludo’s mackerel. The sugar glaze on the skin of the salty fish is ingenius, actually. Add to that the lush but sturdy leaves of verdolagas – with its slightly acidic taste matching a note of the true flavors of the mackerel – and you have a masterpiece. The baby leeksÂ add a subtle kick to things and “tiger’s milk” – plus whatever unbeknownst oils that lay at the base of the plate – will have you sopping whatever pools that lay with the provided green petals.
And that is just one LudoBites memory I choose to share with you all.Â I hope you got a reservation. Apologies if not. Check OpenTable regularly and be sure to follow KrissyÂ (@frenchchefwife) for cancellations. Per the website: “Â Typically cancellations come in during the morning after reminders have been sent out, so best time to check for availability on a given day is that morning.” Good luck.
(And for those who have selfishly secured more than 1 reservation for themselves, all I have to ask is, “Really?” Give someone else a shot, maybe?)
Brad A. Johnson of Angeleno Magazine bestowed his awards on the best of Los Angeles, as he does every year, and it was time to celebrate. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to participate in this celebration, and boy did it impress.
So I didn’t get to try everything before the tastes ran out – but I don’t really blame the event organizers. I blame my sloth pace at really savoring every bite there was in the Fairmont Miramar’s beautifully appointed parking circle, which surrounds probably the oldest tree I know in Los Angeles. I was happy to note that Oxley Gin was a liquor sponsor (along with Veev), and whom created the cocktails with which I washed down all the heavenly plates of food. It was an impressive showing, indeed.
The beef tartar could have stood on its own – nevermind that the shavings of black truffles put it over the top in the best possible way. I had two.
Another favorite was Chef Ben Bailly’s Cauliflower Panna Cotta topped by Petrossian Transmontanous caviar. So indulgent and so delicious – it was like creamy heaven accented with that perfect, almost briny zest caviar gives. I, again, had two.
Chef Ludo Lefebvre was there to deliver punches to the mouth. Not literally, of course, but his Heirloom tomato smoothie came accented with its own extractions from the sea:Â Squid ink vodka jelly and seaweed tartar. As with LudoBites, the combination of everything together was done amazingly well – while in fact I love tomatoes, seaweed, squid ink and vodka individually. The shooter was surprisingly spicy, with the umami of the squid ink and seaweed probably augmented by the vodka. Delicious.
LaurentÂ Quenioux from Bistro LQ’s Lobster Tapioca topped with uni was amazing as always. Once upon a time I did the tasting menu at Bistro LQ and the lobster tapioca in particular, as one of theÂ starters,Â was my favorite dish. It was a decadent revisit and one I was glad to have.
It was refreshing yet surprisingly weighty. The tiny filets were cooked to a perfectly tender consistency, and I was amazed I could appreciate the flavor in such a small piece of fish.
There were a few things that ran out by the time my leisurely pace took me to the other side of the courtyard, unfortunately, like Hatfield’s Braised Pork Belly, Craft’s White Wine Braised Octopus and Comme Ca’s Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Terrine. But as usual, it was good to enjoy the blogger company that was there, like Lindsay of LAist, Caroline on Crack, Hadley of GrubStreet LA, Josh of FoodGPS, Kevin Eats, Jo of My Last Bite, Kat of Eater LA, Mattatouille and much, much more. This was a great event with a great turn-out, and there was no better occasion than to celebrate this year’s winners (the first award of which I was very happy Lazy Ox Canteen won):
Best New Restaurant: Lazy Ox Canteen
Best New Chef: Michael Voltaggio (formerly The Langham)
It’s another culinary bazaar (we here in Los Angeles know how often these come around) but this time, it’s our city-wide flagship publication pulling out all the stops. It looks like the L.A. Times will live up to their name, too, because there are names to be had at this event held at on New York Street (yeah, pretty funny) in the backlot of Paramount Pictures.
Feelin’ a little indie with your wine? There will also be music, as She & Him are scheduled to headline the event with a full set. Angela McClusky will support.
Demonstrations will be taking place for your pleasure and education, as will panels by the following:
If you buy in advance, you’ll save $10. The best part is that general admission attendees also get to enjoy a good number of pours (8 to be exact) with their food. But if VIP is more your speed, you’ll get unlimited pours and in addition, you’ll get to taste bites from these participants. Benefiting from ticket sales are Share Our Strength and the Los Angeles Times Family Fund, so you can feel good that you’ve spent your day also supporting worthy causes.
Seems like a it’ll be a great debut. I’ll see you there.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
12 – 8 PM
$125 VIP Admission ($135 door) $55 General Admission ($65 door) $40 Concert Only, advance and door
Looks like Beverly Hills wants officially mark themselves on the map as a culinary eventÂ destination in Los Angeles – as the first annual Taste of Beverly Hills will take place on September 2 – 5, 2010. With no event legacy, the first thing I’m drawn to is that it spans over 4 days – and over Labor Day Weekend, at that! The second? The price.
Of course, it wouldn’t be L.A., much less Beverly Hills, without all the hot names on the ticket. Names like (Top Chef Season Six winner) Michael Voltaggio, Walter Mazke (formerly of Church & State), Ludo Lefebvre (LudoBites), John Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal) all showcasing their work for visitors to the event.
The weekend will commence on Thursday with an ever appropriately named picnic matched to its date, â€œ9.02.10 City of Beverly Hills Celebration.â€ You’llÂ sit under the stars with guests such as Larry King and others while enjoying live musical performances. Remember: This event is separately ticketed and not included in the all-inclusive price.
Enjoy food from over 50 chefs and restauranteurs, beer, wine, cocktail tastings, and chef demos within the Grand Tasting area throughout the weekend. The schedule is curated by KCRWâ€™s â€œGood Foodâ€ Host and Chef Evan Kleiman while the tunes are directed by Jason Bentley, KCRW music director and host of â€œMorning Becomes Eclectic.” The schedule that’s planned in the Grand Tasting area:
â€œThe Art of Mixingâ€ (Friday evening)â€”the cityâ€™s top mixologists and DJs â€œmixâ€ their talents. Ooh, la la!
â€œSecrets From the Kitchen and Cellarâ€ (Saturday afternoon)â€”chefs and master sommeliers showcase the tricks of their trades.
â€œTaste of Something Betterâ€ Cooking Competition (Saturday afternoon)â€”three finalists will vie for the crown of â€œAmericaâ€™s Top Amateur Chefâ€ and compete to represent the United States in the 2010 LG â€œLife Tastes Goodâ€ global cooking competition in Seoul, South Korea, this fall.
â€œDate Nightâ€ (Saturday evening)â€”an evening of good food, wine, music, and one-on-one time with master sommeliers and vintners.
â€œThe Art of Brunchâ€ (Sunday afternoon)â€”free-flowing brunch cocktails, live gospel and jazz performances, a 50-foot grand table featuring the cityâ€™s finest pastries and breads, along with KCRWâ€™s annual pie contest hosted by â€œGood Foodâ€ Host Evan Kleiman.
Okay, Beverly Hills! Show us what you got. Tickets areÂ available today for $125 per person for a day session pass, $150 for an evening session pass and $500 per person for an all-access weekend package. Again, the â€œ90210 City of Beverly Hills Celebrationâ€ on Thursday is an individually ticketed event for $150.
Oh look. It’s the obligatory LudoBites 4.0 post on e*starLA. Like it’s really an LAÂ food blog without it, you say. Well, you’re right. So while I’m at it, I’ll also remind everybody that 1) It’s completely booked, but also: 2) There are always cancellations. Follow Krissy Lefebvre (@frenchchefwife) for notice of these cancellations. And after you score that reservation, remember to BYOB it. A great wine shop to consult for your purchase is Domaine LA (@domainela), where Jill recommended a lovely ’08 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir that got rave reviews from my tablemates. Also check out the recommended wine list for LudoBites diners.
Last night was another Ludo fried chicken night at Akasha which doubled as a viewing party for Ludo’s return to Top Chef Masters. It wasÂ buffet-style and some lucky diners got to take home the leftovers. I was not so diligent in securing some for myself, I’m sad to say.Â But it was so fun to see how our favorite social media-entwined chef got “cast” as the crazy Frenchman in reality TV land, getting 100% subtitled and well, playing the part quite expertly.Â TheÂ party attendees sat and watched the episode intently, whileÂ smug that we gotÂ to experience Ludo’sÂ drama – live and in the flesh.
But back to LudoBites: My camarades and I tasted the entire menu, but today is not the day for the forever-scrolling blog post. So on with the favorites from the LudoBites 4.0 menu as we knew it (Ludo regularly changes and evolves his menu):
I also loved the Red Snapper Ceviche – a dish I couldn’t figure if more flavorful or refreshing. Jalapenos and red onions gave it a proper kick while tomatoes were an effective cooling agent. I snuck an extra helping of this one onto my plate. The scallop dish was an adventure of sorts, combining the perfectly seared bivalves (with that perfect ring on the outside) with almond puree and cauliflower ice cream. There were many little nuances from all over the place, especially when you also combined them with the pickled grapes and curry oil. The bite, however, wasn’t complete until you included a little of the caper paste smeared onto the plate. And after that was done, I found myself going back to the cauliflower ice cream – just to make sure it really was cauliflower that I tasted in the creamy – yet quickly melting – cold scoop. There were super-thin slices of raw cauliflower on top of each scallop which together were drizzled in a slightly spicy curry oil.
Oh, balls. I say such with adulation, not lamentation – since I was lucky enough to squeeze into Sam and Zach‘s reservation for a special Monday night. Ludo Lefebvre’s latest one-off collaboration took place at Akasha Restaurant in Culver City earlier this week – and the foodies were out in full force. This time,Â itÂ wasn’t so much a showdown as it was an opportunity for LudoBites fanatics to get a taste of his famed chicken -Â juicy, fried goodnessÂ to which reservations were fully booked 12 hours (or less)Â after the reservation line went live.
Akasha has not one but two deep fryers -Â andÂ Ludo’s chicken certainly benefitted from the tools. We wereÂ each provisioned three rosemary chicken balls, this time furnished with a lemon aioli (as opposed to the sweet chili sauce provided at The Foundry). Rounding out each order were two side dishes – coleslaw, collard greens, sweet potato friesÂ or smashed potatoes. There wasÂ a more lucrative $18 price point to match the chicken’s popularity (at The Foundry, theÂ two pieces of chicken were just $6 – without sides). The sidesÂ at Akasha were delicious, but of course we couldn’t forget Akasha’s own specialty, their perfectly-breaded-and-fried onion rings. Not too greasy or bready, the rings – with their side of ketchup and garlic aioli – actually had me wishing more came per side order.
Focus now! The chicken! As per usual, the chicken was perfect – a tad darker in mere color than I remember – but I was glad that there was an extra helping of breadding on my plate. It was seasoned with rosemary which was contrasted well by the citrus tang of lemon aioli; the juicy texture enabled each round nugget to fall at my fork. Before I was finished, I heard on my left, “If you leave that on your plate, you’ll never hear the end of it.” Yes, it was recent NYC ex-pat Zach of Midtown Lunch, the fan of all things greasy and succulent. He spoke too soon, as I savored each bite – including the extra skin – and washed it down with Syrah. Each intonation from the jazz trio that played nearby was lost on me as I concentrated on my palate. Thankfully, the movement the music provided to the already-cool, bustling and somewhat industrial-yet-well-lit (great for usÂ food photographers)Â atmosphere of Akasha was not.
We finished off with dessert. It was perfectly tangy and sweet – I would come back to Akasha for this pie alone. The crust was perfectly buttery – and Ludo and I joked that we could replace the crumbs on top of the pie with chicken breadding! And as always, the Ludo event had food bloggers and others in the scene crawling out of the woodwork – with out-of-town visitors andÂ @thejgold himselfÂ to boot. Foursquare check-ins (“with 19 other people”) were at an all-time high. Krissy and Ludo made their warm, welcoming rounds. It’s always a party – and I’m lucky to be a wallflower. Did I mention Ludo ran the LA Marathon the day before?! How is that for star power?
If you don’t have your LudoBites 4.0 reservation, be sure to stay tuned for the wait list queue – which begins March 28.