Celebrating Peruvian Independence Day at Mo-Chica

Paiche

The Los Angeles restaurant world is always evolving, and at ever furious speeds. There’s a new restaurant every week, it seems, and while we can’t help but look up for a moment when something new comes around the corner, it’s important to remember the good ones that are worth going back to.

It’s always a great time to revisit Mo-Chica, the Downtown L.A. incarnation of which just turned 1 a month ago. And over the weekend, Peruvian Independence Day was the occasion to do just that. From the Deysi Alvarez’s glorious cocktails to Ricardo Zarate’s bold-flavored dishes featuring top-notch seafood framed by exotic ingredients like rocoto, choclo and quinoa, it was a welcome reminder that despite all that, this is an accessible, delicious destination without the fuss near the Historic Core.

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My Top dineLA Restaurant Week Lunch Picks for Summer, 2013: July 15 – 26

RivaBella’s Nidi di Rondine

This summer’s dineLA Restaurant Week commences today and lasts 10 days – over two weekday stretches and one weekend. And since we’ve had a few of these by now, it’s probably time we got smart on maneuvering through the multitude of menus. The trick with dineLA prix fixe is that it may get people through the door, but it may or may not be quite the deal you had in mind. The danger is that you might just be stuck with fewer, albeit recommended, choices for about the same price you’d normally pay.

May I propose lunch? They tend to be better deals than dinner – often true between both offerings of the same restaurant – because there’s more incentive to increase lunch traffic with dinner reservations filling up more readily. So whether you’ve got a 9-5 in the area or are in a certain neighborhood for an audition or client appointment, there’s probably a great dineLA power lunch strategy wherever you end up.

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Four Los Angeles Food Events in June You Won’t Want to Miss

Picture credits: TOTNLA, @LA_Chefs

Now that it’s summer in Los Angeles, there’s a ton going on all over town. And when it comes to food events, it’s enough to make your head spin. But you want to play it smart with your time and funds, because no one’s got patience for fluff.

Fortunately, I’ve narrowed it down to the best four events you’ll want to attend this month. They’re all on the weekend, so you’ll have enough time to make your trek. Whether it’s raising money to combat childhood hunger, celebrating Fatherhood the best way possible, eating the best tacos in the city or carousing the famous Rose Bowl for the best bites in Los Angeles, June is shaping up to be an exciting time to be in L.A. Let’s get started. Continue reading

First Taste: Paiche Brings Refined Peruvian Izakaya to Marina del Rey

Uni Shrimp Toast

While I caught a peek of the new Marina del Rey restaurant’s interior and fare through one of the Best New Chef reunion dinners brought to Paiche by Food GPS (Portland’s Naomi Pomeroy was guest chef), last night was the first time I got a real taste of Ricardo Zarate’s new menu, taking center stage, thanks to a lucky invite to Friends & Family night.

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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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Favorite Dish: Rein Fall in with Mo-Chica’s Quinotto

Quinotto – Quinoa risotto, wild mushrooms, parmesan, parsley infused oil

I was loving the weather this past weekend in Los Angeles. At one time, I may have been one of those annoying Midwest ex-pats that complained about “missing the seasons,” but let’s be honest: Heat wave after heat wave into October does not a City of Angels make. We finally get to bring out the boots and maybe even sweaters. Late October is better than never, as they say.

Inspired by the grey clouds as well as the feeling that we Southern Californians will always have one foot in the sunshine, I recalled Mo-Chica’s Quinotto – a quinoa-mushroom dish that invokes the consistency and tastes of a mushroom risotto. Drizzled with parsley-infused oil, this savory dish is perfect for the grey clouds that have been finally adorning our skies.

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What Carmageddon? Head To L.A. Street Food Fest on Saturday, July 16

Carmageddon - Credit to ml_kap on Flickr

We’ve been notified about this weekend for months, folks. And here it is: The 405 Freeway, on the stretch between the 10 and 101, will be closed Friday night (on-ramps begin closing at 7 PM, lanes at 10 PM) through Monday morning at 5 AM. What does that mean? Stay home if you can! Or find some alternative route (it’s hit the fan: even JetBlue is offering $4 flights from Long Beach to Burbank).

Or, you can make the most of it and, like me, Metro it on over to the other side of the 405. Pasadena, that is. I plan on taking the Red Line to the Gold Line since L.A. Street Food Fest will be providing shuttles from Memorial Park Station on the Gold Line to the Rose Bowl every 30 minutes. Plan on making it a Staycation? LASFF has also secured a special rate at the nearby Courtyard Marriott.

There are plenty of reasons to trek it on over to the Rose Bowl. Try these bites:

  • Chef Christian Page / Tione’s Quality Meats
    Sonoma Lamb Shoulder w/ Mediterranean Salsa
  • Chef Dan Moody / Relate
    Banana Bread Pudding a la Pecan Pie
  • Chef Ricardo Zarate / Mo-Chica + Picca
    Assorted Causas & Anticucho
  • Chef Javier Plascencia / Mision 19
    Grilled Oysters w/ Chicharron Short Rib,
    Serrano Chili, Ponzu Butter, Lemongrass Foam
  • Starry Kitchen
    Mystery Balls
  • Mariscos de Jalisco
    Tacos Dorado de Camaron
  • Sabina Bandera
    Uni Tostadas
  • Samosa from Naan Stop Truck
  • Naan Stop
    Samosas
  • Antojitos Carmen
    Alambre Taco + Mini Pambaso + Mini Squash Blossom Quesadilla
  • Guelaguetza
    Mole Tamales
  • Guisados
    Sopes
  • Ramen JINYA + Robata JINYA
    Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen
  • Luxe Lounge Mixologist
    Julian Cox

And if that’s not enough, head on over to Bill of Street Gourmet LA’s post on the LASFF, whereby he details the vendors he brought up from Mexico to specially attend this event with their delicious bites. Also try on the entire vendor list for size if you really want to know who’s going to be there. This event has surely moved on from a representation of the nouveau food truck oversaturation we’ve seen in these parts. Get ready for some O.G. tastes!

Steak Tartar by Ricardo Zarate

If you want to live it up and try on the Luxe Lounge for size, mixologist Julian Cox and his specialty cocktails would be the perfect reason to push you over the edge. It’s $15 more and now, only the afternoon tickets are available so be sure to jump on it ASAP. But wait, I’ve got a link for $10 off (courtesy of the famed Test Kitchen) tickets. Just look below.

And in case you were worried about the lack of culinary (and political) star power at the event, never fear: Michael Voltaggio, Mayor Villaraigosa, Jonathan Gold, Lesley Bargar Suter, Walter Manzke and Marcela Velladoid will be on-hand to judge the bites at the fest. It’ll be exciting to see just who wins in their respective categories.

So, I will see you there – with multiple bites in-hand. Don’t forget: It’s presale only and there are only a few hours left to buy so don’t sleep on this one.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

2 – 5 PM
6 – 9 PM

Presale only:
Discounted Tickets ($10 off) through Test Kitchen
Regular Presale

LASFF at The Rose Bowl
360 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91106

Tastes From Angeleno Magazine’s Chefs Night Out

Beef Tartare Crostino with Guanciale Zabaglione & Shaved Black Summer Truffles & Baby Artichokes in Casseruola | Angelini Osteria - Chef Ori Menashe

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.

Capesante day boat scallops with farro, summer corn, heirloom tomatoes, scallions, English peas and citronette | Culina - Chef Victor Casanova

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.

Cauliflower Panna Cotta Topped With Transmontanous Caviar | Petrossian - Chef Ben Bailly

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: 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.

Lobster Tapioca with Uni | Chef Laurent Quenioux - Bistro LQ

Laurent 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 the starters, was my favorite dish. It was a decadent revisit and one I was glad to have.

My favorite fish of the night, however, was prepared by Chef Josiah Citrin of Mélisse. The loup de mer, or seabass, still had the skin on which helped retain a lot of the flavor and came in a pool of appropriately oily broth, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and basil.

Loup de mer, Heirloom Tomatoes and Cucumber-Basil | Chef Josiah Citrin - Melisse

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)
  • Chef of the Year: Michael Cimarusti, Providence
  • Restaurant of the Year: Hatfield’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Zoe Nathan, Huckleberry Café & Bakery
  • Outstanding Wine & Spirits: The Bazaar
  • Outstanding Service: The Grill on the Alley
  • Vanguard Award: Water Grill

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows
101 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404

L.A. Times Celebration of Food & Wine: September 5, 2010

L.A. Times Wine & Food Festival at Paramount Pictures Studios | Photo credit to isayx3 on Flickr

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:

  • Michael Voltaggio – Winner, Top Chef Season 6
  • Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo – Animal Restaurant
  • Mark Peel –Campanile, The Tar Pit, Top Chef Masters Seasons 1 & 2
  • Suzanne Goin –AOC, Lucques, Tavern and The Hungry Cat
  • Jimmy Shaw -Loteria Grill
  • Ludo Lefebvre – LudoBites
  • Betty Fraser – Grub, Top Chef Season 2
  • Chris “C.J.” Jacobsen – The Yard, Top Chef Season 3
  • Alex Reznik – Ivan Kane’s Cafe Was, Top Chef Season 7
  • John Sedlar – Rivera
  • Barrie Lynn – The Cheese Impresario
  • Ricardo Zarate – Mo-chica
  • Russ Parsons – Food Editor, Los Angeles Times
  • Noelle Carter – Manager, Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen
  • Rene Lynch – Assistant Food Editor, Los Angeles Times
  • Jessica Gelt – Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times
  • Betty Hallock – Deputy Food Editor, Los Angeles Times
  • Krista Simmons – Associate Editor, Brand X

And of course, high brow or not, it wouldn’t truly be a Los Angeles food event without food trucks present. Don Chow Tacos, Wahoo’s, The Sweets Truck, The Buttermilk Truck, DosaTruck, Coolhaus will all be there if you so prefer your food off a 4-wheeler.

Wine, sake and spirits from various vendors will help you wash down your bites. Blackheart Spiced Rum, Broc Cellars / Broadside Wines, Conway Family Wines, Dutcher Crossing Winery, Evan Williams Hong Reserve Bourbon, Flora Springs Winery & Vineyards, Gekkeikan Sake, Hook & Ladder Winery, Lunazul 100% Agave Tequila, Kook Soon Dang Beer, Michael David Winery, Rideau Vineyard, Sinatra Family Estates, and Venteux Vineyards will all be present during the event.

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

Tickets

L.A. Times Celebration of Food & Wine at
Paramount Pictures
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Mo-Chica: A Peruvian Oasis in South L.A.

Ceviche (Market Fish, Seaweed, Peruvian Corn, Leche de Tigre) $5

About a little more than three weeks ago, you may have gotten the Blackboard Eats code for 30% off Mo-Chica. You may have gotten it because you’ve heard about Chef Ricardo Zarate. You may have gotten it because you were curious about Peruvian food. Well if there were a legit Blackboard Eats post that I ever wrote with urgency, let it be this one because your Mo-Chica code is about to expire this weekend.

Causa (Peruvian Potato Salad) $4

To start off, there are few things that will draw me into Trojan Land. No, I don’t harbor Trojan bittnerness as a Westwood-bred Bruin; it’s just like anything else. It better be for something specific. Like soul food. Or Chanos. Or the start of The Great Walk of LA. A Revlon Run-Walk or Nike event. Or yes, now: Mo-Chica. Ask Caroline – she was a little skeeved, though neither of us were familiar with the Mercado Paloma marketplace, a food court of sorts. Nancy, who wrote the Mo-Chica post on Caroline’s blog, was a pro, though, as a Trojan.

Each entree averages around $10 – which, considering the food, is quite a bargain for how much flavor Mo-Chica packs in each dish. I was especially impressed with the range of dishes with not even a consequence of nutrition value guilt. No dish was particularly heavy, and the thought that I was missing out never occurred to me. I was full, all right, while wanting to chase more tastebud titillations if only I had the capacity to digest them, too. The dishes, which centered around seafood, were perfectly executed in flavor and even portion…you wanted just another bite but knew that the next dish lay just around the corner. That’s how good Mo-Chica is. After all, it’s probably no accident that it’s a repeat mention for @thejgold, who also named it as the Best Peruvian Ceviche he’s had outside of Peru. First things first, I need to visit Peru.

Arroz Con Marisco (Peruvian Paella With Mixed Seafood) $13

I’ll take Mo-Chica – the contemporary equivalent – in the meantime.

Because I had read about the Ceviche and the Causa – both of which were indeed mind-blowing. But nothing was to prepare me for the Arroz Con Marisco, which was so packed with seafood in every bite (tiny clams especially), I couldn’t believe how deliciously hearty this rice dish was for the flavor and value. I might have to order this dish every time I return, just so I’m sure not to miss any seafood goodness (I am always a seafood pasta kind of girl when in Italy, too).

Special: Monk Fish and Fava Beans $13

The special that we ordered this night went beyond our expectations – and I never remember ever having liked Fava Beans as much as I did at Mo-Chica. The fish was perfectly cooked and tender and the sauce had a ton of flavor which bordered on a kind of curry. The texture of the dish had a nice gumminess thanks to the beans, and it became clear that this was a main dish, an entree.

Passion Fruit Creme Brulee

For dessert: Get the passion fruit creme brulee. The top layer was thankfully perfectly torched in our rendition, and the consistency of the custard was super creamy, dense and packed a whole lot of passion fruit flavor. Divine.

So don’t let this Blackboard Eats code go to waste. The entrees average about $10 with the appetizers starting at half that; apply the 30% off and you are in contemporary Peruvian heaven at a bargain.

Mo-Chica
3655 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA‎ 90007
213.747.2141‎

@mo_chica