Remembering LudoBites With Mind of a Chef and Ludo Lefebvre

Shooting with Ludo, Krissy & Mind of a Chef Crew

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.

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Five Upcoming Food & Drink Events You Won’t Want to Miss

LudoBites 4.0 Greatest Hits: White Asparagus Veloute, Mozzarella Mousse, Candied Olives, Fennel, Salmon Roe

Now would be a great time to finally and formally introduce you to my “Upcoming Events” column over on the right (–>). It’s but a few months old, but a great way to short-handedly let you know about the best things that are coming up as far as goings on in Los Angeles. It also means less pre-event write-ups, since you can get the skinny right in that column. (You’re welcome.)

For now, though, I’ve anticipated a slew of food events in our beloved city – especially while everyone’s trying to get everything wrapped up before the holidays. I believe the following, however, warrant special attention. Be sure to make your reservations & buy your tickets. Here they are, in order of date:

1. Now: LudoBites 10.0 Reservation Window Now Open (until 10:59 AM Thursday, November 29, 2012)

Right now we’re in the middle of a 24-hour window that first opened at 11 AM PST. So until 10:59 AM tomorrow (Thursday, November 29), you’ll get to enter the lottery for a reservation on one of 14 days (weekdays, December 4-21) of LudoBites 10.0 at Gram & Papa’s in Downtown LA. No guarantees that any of you will actually GET a reservation, but all we can do is try, try, try, right? (No seriously – don’t submit that form twice. It will make Krissy very mad. Just once, guys.) Protip: To increase your chances of getting a reservation, be sure to be as available as possible, since you have to fill out your available days and time slots. Or maybe that was obvious.

And if you don’t know what LudoBites is, by now, I’m afraid I can’t help you…or can I?

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Just One Essential LudoBites 6.0 Dish

Marinated Mackerel, Leche Del Tigre, Baby Leeks, Verdolagas Leaves ($15)

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 especially inspired by 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 leeks 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. I hope you got a reservation. Apologies if not. Check OpenTable regularly and be sure to follow Krissy (@frenchchefwife) for cancellations. Per the website: “ 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?)

2nd half of 6.0: November 30 – December 5, 2010

6 – 9:30 PM

LudoBites 6.0
13355 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Favorites From LudoBites 4.0

White Asparagus Velouté, Mozzarella Mousse, Fennel, Candied Olive, Salmon Roe ($14)

Oh look. It’s the obligatory LudoBites 4.0 post on e*starLA. Like it’s really an LA 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.

Scallop, Almond Puree, Pickled Grapes, Capers, Curry Oil & Cauliflower Ice Cream ($14)

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 was 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. 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. The party attendees sat and watched the episode intently, while smug that we got to experience Ludo’s 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 love all the daring contrasts in flavors that Ludo features in his dishes, especially when it comes to soup. I’m sorry, I meant velouté. Why yes certainly, it is velvety, which is such a perfect background for when the salmon roe delivers a sort of salt shock. And the candied olive is actually sweet, yes. The fennel gave the dish its center texture and had good flavor. It blew my mind – because it’s not every day where you are treated to food that requires that you think. Ahh…Ludobites is back.

Burgundy Escargots, Garlic Flan, Green Jus, Violet Flowers ($12)

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.

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Royalties Are All Ludo’s at LudoBites Launch

Krissy Lefebvre shows us what's on her back

It could’ve been just another November Friday night in L.A. of standing in line outside just to stand shoulder-to-shoulder inside. But no – it was Culver City not Hollywood, and this pop-up culinary experience called “LudoBites” came packaged inside a Japanese cosplay cafe accented with a concurrently naughty theme. That theme would be “In Bed Together” – in regards to the displayed art around the cafe – and the French chef’s wife would have a … rooster on her back.

Scallop crudo and pineapple in brown butter, squid ink

There were the standard passed appetizers like tuna carpaccio, steak-wrapped asparagus, French fries and miscellaneous toasts that would satiate us aside from the dishes du jour. Chef Ludo Lefebvre himself would be encased inside a glass box in the center as guests filed into that box on one side of the velvet rope while not necessarily exiting on the other. Bright lights. It was hot in there.

But that didn’t stop Ludo from fixing hundreds of Solo cups filled with a delicious mixture of scallop crudo and pineapple in brown butter – all of which came dusted in dark specks. Hey – we all love butter but the surprising thing about the dish was how light it was. The sweet pineapples were perfect in highlighting the mild flavor of fresh scallops. The salty squid ink brought everything out together.

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LudoBites For Lunch?!

Me, Ludo, Caroline on Crack at Domaine LA Wine Shop Opening (Krissy behind the camera)
Me, Ludo, Caroline on Crack at Domaine LA Wine Shop Opening (Krissy behind the camera)

It was just another ordinary day in Twitterverse.

I work nearby the Miracle Mile outpost of the ongoing food truck revolution. My target today would be the Grilled Cheese Truck and I would ultimately miss – thanks to their popularity and resulting 30-foot line. From what it looked like, the line was stagnant and my suited arse had to be back at work.

Aborting @grlldcheesetruk, the line is 30 feet long. I need to get back to my day job,” I lamented.

Krissy, a.k.a. Mrs. Ludo Lefebvre, referenced our lunch at Jitlada last week, which was organized by Jo of MyLastBite. I had played hooky for delicious Thai food, but also to pick my cat up from surgery in the boondocks. “@estarLA: I guess only @jitladala can force you into a day of hookey from work. :)”

Indeed.

Or something else that wasn’t in my wildest dreams available. I responded: “LMK when LudoBites does lunch then we’ll talk ;)”

Yes. Do: Let me know. And she did – right away. It was tentative but not expected, and that was enough.

FrenchChefWife came back: “That might not be too far off 🙂 RT @estarLA LMK when LudoBites does lunch then we’ll talk.”

“Whaaa?!?”

The bulk of the news was exchanged in Twitterland, and to round out the story: They’re between two places for LudoBites’ next stint after Royal/T – which, by the way, hasn’t even started yet and has been sold out since last week. Never fear. They’ve been planning for mid-January 2010 at the earliest for their next potential lunch and dinner spot. Yes, lunch! Squee…!!

Bummed you didn’t get in on the sold-out In Bed Together LudoBites installment at Royal/T? Well this is your chance. And if you don’t work nearby, believe me – this lunch will be worth playing hookey for. 😉

I’m looking forward to the launch party on Friday. Krissy says she will be debuting the new LudoBites T-shirt, which “is very funny and semi-tasteless, but it is all in fun.” Oh! We knew that! What is LudoBites if it isn’t fun?! (Aforementioned t-shirts will also be available for sale.)

P.S. – Culver City would be peachy. Kthx.

Further reading:

LudoBites Take 2 – FoodGPS

Checking Out LudoBites (Twice a Week) – GourmetPigs

LudoBites Pops Up at Royal/T This December – CarolineOnCrack

(All 13 dates sold out)

December 2-4, 9-10,13-17, 20-22; 2009

LudoBites: In Bed Together with Royal/T
8910 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232-2326
310.559.6300

Ludo Bites Are From Ludo

It’s time for me to get ultra geeky. This is just the kind of food to get really excited about – and I have to admit, I waited awhile to make my visit to Ludo‘s temporary post at Breadbar and there was a lot of talk in the blogosphere preceding my visit. But I just had to see what all the hoopla was about. Upon actually eating Ludo Bites, though – I saw how it was easy to get excited about these plates. Well. I thought that such “beautiful” food must taste spectacular; I was also amazed that for the better part each plate really did. These bites are meant to surprise you. You will want more at the end of each plate but will be visually enticed directly into the next.

The menu changes evolves daily. Ludo is constantly tinkering and perfecting if not overhauling these plates. The Kumamoto Oysters came in a pool of red cabbage and three carefully-placed cubes of kimchi gelee. The foam, Sam and I were told, comes from the oysters themselves. How delightful, and outright resourceful, I thought. The oysters themselves were extra tender (fresh) and slurpable – if that were proper. But Ludo seems to love fun more than formality. The kimchi added a subtly fermented spice to the mixture. After enjoying the oysters and gelee, I couldn’t stop savoring the liquified red cabbage as its own soup.

Just the same, I savored the chorizo soup before it.

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