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.
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?
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?)
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.
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.
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.
I work nearby the Miracle Mile outpost of the ongoing food truck revolution. My target today would be the Grilled Cheese Truck andÂ 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.
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. :)”
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.”
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.)
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 menuchanges 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 oystersand gelee, I couldn’t stop savoring the liquified red cabbage as its own soup.
Just the same, I savored the chorizo soup before it.