Test Kitchen Debuts With Jordan Kahn’s Red Medicine

Saigon Tartine | pork belly, pate, coriander, carrot pickle, green chili

Pop-ups are all the rage, lately, especially in Los Angeles. Test Kitchen, however, brings that concept to another, oxymoronic level in that it is a “permanent” pop-up, of sorts. Yes, Test Kitchen serves exactly the purpose of how it sounds in the first place, and is indicative of a food culture and city in which it is normal for talented and even famous chefs to be homeless. Test Kitchen is the couch they squat, and Jordan Kahn’s, Noah Ellis’ and Adam Fleischman’s (Umami Burger) new Vietnamese outfit to open in the fall on Wilshire, Red Medicine, was the first to do so in a fully booked 5-day run ending last Sunday.

Cured Amberjack | lime leaf, french melon, nuoc cham, bird chili, mint

Luckily, Mattatouille let me crash his 2-top reservation that day, and as to be expected there were tons of industry and bloggy types to brush shoulders against. In my lone experience during Jordan’s run, I could see hardly any drawbacks to the system. The pacing in all 12 courses was expedient (yes, there were 12) and the prix fixe pricing was dirt cheap at $40. The dishes that were hits really went out of the park; the dishes that were misses for me were arguable and interesting conversation pieces with others in attendance. One thing’s for sure, though: Jordan’s imagination was ever apparent in every course and kept all diners sitting at the edge of their chairs.

Tomatoes | marinated in an infusion of their vines, silky tofu, crunch tofu, herbs

Favorites included the pork belly tartine – it was paired perfectly with pickled carrots and coriander, given weight by the pate and finished with the perfect kick at the end thanks to the back-burning green chili. I enjoyed it in a single bite yet savored it for minutes thereafter. Another grand slam was the Cured Amberjack, balanced atop sous vide french melon and topped with lime leaf, nuoc cham, bird chili and mint. It was an amazingly refreshing yet complex dish that really complemented the fish.

Bay Scallops | pomelo, young ginger, tamarind syrup, puffed tapioca, charred frisee

One of my other favorites was the tomatoes, which were a delicious example in sustainable cooking and farming, having been marinated in an infusion of their vines. The unmistakeable tomato flavor was paired up with silky and crunchy tofu – a refreshing departure from mozzarella and creme fraiche. The silken tofu had nuances of a creamier food thanks to the vine infusion oil but when I realized I wished there were more on the plate it was clear how light the dish was. Leafy greens and purple basil gave it good aroma, green color and foliage.

Baby Carrots | fermented black bean, star anise, coconut, tarragon

One of the dishes that I enjoyed but Mattatouille happened to disagree with was the bay scallops, dressed with young ginger, tamarind syrup, puffed tapioca and charred frisee. It was my first time experiencing frisee served that way and this provided much of the flavor – a nice twist on a green that has normally been regarded as a garnish. The puffed tapioca was a nice spin on hominy, making the intermixed bay scallops (read: small) somewhat an ingredient in a seafood salad. It challenged how I indiscriminately favored big juicy scallop steaks up until this point. Touche.

The baby carrots were a nice, firm yet sweet texture underneath the also sweet fermented black bean – my favorite sweet-savory dish on the menu in contrast to the brussels sprouts (carmelized shallots, fish sauce, prawn crackers), which I didn’t think quite worked but others had actually liked. The anise on the baby carrots as well as the coconut and tarragon really kept things aromatic and interesting.

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Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation On Sunday, June 6

Credit: Taste of the Nation: Los Angeles 2010 PSA – Spot #3 (Alternate Version) from Jeff Vespa on Vimeo

As is evident in my coverage on this blog, culinary and food events in Los Angeles come and go – but what is probably the most important event all year will happen this coming Sunday. Personally, this has been a long time coming – since I helped host a fashion and foodie event at the Tory Burch boutique back in mid-April to help sell tickets to this event. Share Our Strength‘s Taste of the Nation takes place at Media Park in Culver City from 1 – 4 PM, and 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales to the event go towards ending child hunger in Los Angeles. You will not find an event anywhere with more star chef power, so if the barrage of food events (understandably) overwhelm you, pick Taste of the Nation as your charitable culinary bazaar of choice.

Here’s exactly why:

The 2010 Participating Restaurants, Chefs and featured dishes:

8 OZ, GOVIND ARMSTRONG / JACOB WILDMAN
Tuna melt: albacore confit with a cucumber salad

AKASHA, AKASHA RICHMOND
Pulled Niman pork on pretzel rolls with slaw & pickles
Grilled market vegetable salad

BAR 210, MARCEL VIGNERON
Thai shrimp skewers

BAZAAR / THE SLS HOTEL, JOSE ANDRES / JORGE CHICAS
Liquid nitro margarita
Liquid olives
Watermelon gazpacho shots

BISTRO LQ, LAURENT QUENIOUX
Macedoine salad, uni dressing, Maine lobster
Chilled porcini soup, mirabelle coulis, foie gras chantilly/espuma
Soy milk white chocolat ice cream, american caviar – macarons

BLT STEAK, LAURENT TOURNDEL / BRIAN MOYERS
Shortrib tortelli “caramelles,” sweet corn, chantrelles, summer truffle

BORDER GRILL / CIUDAD, MARY SUE MILLIKEN / SUSAN FENIGER
Cochinita pibil tostaditas
Chilean sea bass ceviche sushi, from St. Joseph Center’s Bread and Roses Café and Culinary Training Program

BOTTEGA LOUIE, SAM MARVIN
Torchon foie gras with organic apple gastrique & marcona almond brittle
Heirloom tomato, watermelon & feta salad

CACHE, JOSIAH CITRIN
Market-driven seasonal creations

CAFÉ WAS, ALEX REZNIK
Bohemian bistro food

CHURCH & STATE, JOSH SMITH
Cervelle de canut
Green chickpea socca with roasted eggplant, Anaheim chilis

COMME CA, DAVID MYERS
Salmon tartare

CULINA, VICTOR CASANOVA
Burrata with peperonata and Manni estra virgin olive oil “Toscano”

EVA, MARK GOLD
Charred beef, grated radish

FIG, RAYMOND GARCIA
FIG dog with bacon habanero marmalade, cheesy comte fondue and fritos

FORD’S FILLING STATION, BEN FORD
Lamb burger with wild arugula, spicy tomato chutney and melted Wisconsin hook’s baby blue
BBQ pork buns with bread & butter pickles and melted Wisconsin pleasant ridge

FRAICHE, ELDEROY ARENDSE
Albacore tuna tartare, harissa aioli, potato chips

GELATO BAR, JOEL GUTMAN / GAIL SILVERTON
Artisan gelato

GRACE / BLD RESTAURANT, NEAL FRASER
Grilled pork sliders, onion & bacon jam, violet mustard

HATFIELD’S, QUINN HATFIELD
Horseradish dusted braised short rib on smoked potatoes

JOE’S RESTAURANT / BAR PINTXO, JOE MILLER
Braised artichoke with buretta cheese and jamon Iberico
Carpaccio of pineapple, pineapple blueberry compote, coconut mousse
House-made ricotta tapas with anchovy, dried tomato, and Jimenez

LOCANDO DE LAGO, ROBERTO MAGGIONI
Gelato di Parmigiano alla Caprese (Housemade Parmesan Gelato with Market Grape Tomatoes “Caprese-Style” and 12-year Balsamic Vinegar)
Lingua in Salsa Verde (Braised Beef Tongue with Fresh Parsley Pesto)

LOTERIA GRILL, JIMMY SHAW
Papa con rajas (Potato with roasted poblano peppers)
Mole poblano con pollo (Chicken mole poblano)
Carne Deshebrada (Shredded beef with fresh guacamole and chipotle sauce)

LUCQUES/AOC/TAVERN, SUZANNE GOIN
Yellow tomato gazpacho with avocado and cilantro
Olive oil cake with citrus and pistachio aillade

M CAFE/CHAYA BRASSERIE, SHIGEFUMI TACHIBE
Tuna tartare and beef skewers, yakitori grilled

MAR’SEL, MICHAEL FIORELLI
Barbequed beef bahn mi with house pickled vegetables and chili aioli
California avocado salad fresh hearts of palm, Persian cucumber, yogurt, lemon and dill

MERCANTILE/DISTRICT, KRIS MORNINGSTAR
Shrimp and grits
Spicy pork meatball soup
Home made “Better Than Oreos”

MOONSHADOWS
Spicy tuna tartare

OSTERIA MOZZA / PIZZARIA MOZZA, NANCY SILVERTON
Panna cotta vaniglia with conserva di frutti & biscotti (Vanilla panna cotta with Mixed Berry Compote and Biscotti)

NAPA VALLEY GRILLE, JOSEPH GILLARD
Sweet Corn Agnolotti with La Quercia Pancetta

NOBU, NOBU MATSUHISA
Miso Marinated Black Cod with Butter Lettuce

PATINA, JOACHIM SPLICHAL / TONY ESNAULT
Marinated Hamachi, Cucumber Vinegar, Avocado, Granny Smith Apple
Crispy chocolate hazelnut, chocolate mousse

PUBLIC / 25 DEGREES AT THE ROOSEVELT HOTEL, TIM GOODELL / JEREMY STRUBEL
Seasonal specialties

RIVERA, JOHN SEDLAR
Tortillas Flor de Calabaza

SIMON LA, KERRY SIMON / MARIUS BLIN
Crab salad

SPRINKLES, CANDACE NELSON
Freshly baked Sprinkles cupcakes

STREET, SUSAN FENIGER / KAJSA ALGER
Burmese melon salad

THE FOUNDRY ON MELROSE, ERIC GREENSPAN
Grilled Cheese

WESTSIDE TAVERN, WARREN SCHWARTZ
California modern tavern cuisine

XIV, MICHAEL MINA / STEVEN FRETZ
Braised and Grilled Piedmontese Beef Cheeks, Lime Hoisin Glaze, Summer Corn Foam, Micro Cilantro
Hamachi Tartare, Nuoc Cham Gelee, Caramelized Lapxuoug, Peanut Carmel Powder, Compressed Cucumber

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