Friday, March 24, 2017

Mastercard Priceless Table Dinner/ Chef Jessica Koslow

I was once again fortunate to have been invited to this event which was held at the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, California. I have been to 2 others previously; Michael Voltaggio's ink and Susan Feniger's  Mud Hen Tavern. This was different in that it was held not in a restaurant but on the Warner Brother's Studio lot in a beautiful elegant tent. Mertz and I arrived after a 2 hour drive in heavy traffic on the infamous 405 freeway. The red carpet was a nice welcome and immediately transported us to the "Hollywood mode".


Hors d'oeuvres were passed as well as red and white wine. It was a cold and a bit windy so Mertz and I were able to find a table that was a bit sheltered. The first sampling we had were the Arancinis (Italian rice balls). These were no ordinary arancinis, they were superb! We couldn't get over how amazingly crisp they were outside, salty (which we both loved) and tangy inside from the lemon which was very different from any arancinis we've had in the past. It was genius. Another appetizer passed around was the Potato Pancake that had coriander, cardamon and cumin topped with Crème Fraîche. We had a few of those along with the third  hors d'oeuvre; Shrimp flavored Tapioca Crisp topped with shrimp and crab salad.


While we waited for dinner, they offered a tour of the lot on the little trolleys. Mertz and I passed because it was getting too cold and even colder on a moving vehicle. Instead, we chose to continue enjoying the hors d'oeuvres and wine until it was time to enter the tent for dinner. We were a bit slow in entering and were unablel to find 2 seats together so we opted for seats across from one another. One of the servers approached Mertz and asked if we would like to move as she was able to ask people to kindly slide over and make available 2 seats together.  That was very thoughtful. Speaking of the staff, they were all professionals and most of them aspiring actors. The table setting was gorgeous and elegant. Everyone had a signed menu mounted on wood. The plates were to sit on a film canister. Chef Jessica Koslow welcomed everyone and did a short introduction and explanation of the food.


This elegant 4 course dinner came with wine pairing which made it more enjoyable. Our first course was a Three-leaf Salad, winter citrus, turmeric labne and lacto-fermented jalapeño. Mertz especially loved the citrus flavor. Our second course was Local Scallop in the Shell with nasturtium capers, nasturtium flowers and fermented yuzy-kosho. It was silky delicious. I was especially proud of Mertz who wasn't sure if she could even try the uncooked but well marinated scallops. She did and she ate every bit of it. The main course was a wonderful Skirt Steak with preserved lemon and pickled rose hip salsa verde, dried lime saag and crispy romanesco. The steak was tender as a marshmallow. The spices used in the sauce had an Indian flair which made it so different and totally exciting.


Dessert: Anson Mills Graham Cracker Tart, rhubarb kumquat Sqirl jam, chocolate and caramel, dehydrated raspberries. It was a bit of a struggle to cut the dessert so the gentleman next to Mertz suggested we turn it upside down which made it easier. I thought the best way would have been to eat it like a pizza; pick it up and use your hands but since I was at this elegant setting, I restrained myself. The crust was very good and the rhubarb and the kumquat jam was very nice, not sour at all but just enough tartness to go with the gooey chocolate. I had no trouble consuming the whole thing.


Chef Jessica Koslow made her rounds. We had a few words with her and Mertz gave her one of her homemade tomato jams. She was most appreciative. I never take selfies but I thought it would be nice to have a picture of the 3 of us so I took a picture for posterity.


At the end of the evening we asked if we could take the beautiful flowers home if they were just going to discard them. We were told that the vases belonged to Warner Brothers but we were free to take the flowers home so we did choose a few.  As we exited the tent, we were treated to a large Priceless Black Bag which held a nice bottle of 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was impressed with the bottle that was embossed with the Priceless Table and Mastercard logo.


I want to thank Mastercard for another wonderful elegant event, Warner Brothers for hosting it and of course a big thank you to Chef Jessica Koslow for a job well done.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

Forma

This is my second time at Forma. I was with friends in Santa Monica yesterday when suddenly  it was lunch time.....what better place to have lunch and celebrate Fabrice's birthday than to head over to Forma. See my previous blog: http://solittlethyme.blogspot.com/2017/03/forma.html


We had to have the Cacio e Pepe and the fried artichoke salad. Fabrice ordered the Tortellini in light cream and truffle oil. We ordered a bottle of wine to go with our wonderful pasta. My brother Gary who works next door told me to try the Tortellini so I was happy Fabrice ordered it because I knew I would get to try one. It was delicious. I will have to order the Tortellini and Cacio e Pepe on my next trip with my friends who still haven't been to Forma. I asked Fabrice if he could take one of the cheese wheels home. He politely declined as it would not have fit under his sweater.



Since we were celebrating a birthday, our server brought a nice treat for the birthday boy. He also furnished 2 extra forks. Though Fabrice shared some of his dessert, Yvonne and I wanted to order desserts as well. We did get the Bombolone alla Crema and the Banana Pecan Tart with Chocolate. We both preferred the Banana Tart which we didn't finish. I wanted to take home the left over but was afraid the cream would go bad so I went next door and left it on Gary's desk at his office.


Mario, he owner was not there this time but I'm sure to see him sometime soon. Forma is located at 1610 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica, California.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Toscanova

This Italian restaurant is located at the Westfield Century City Mall in Los Angeles. I've never eaten there before. My brother made reservations for 5 of us to support our friend Joyce Partise who was performing with Bill Brendle to bossa nova jazz tunes. This was the main reason for our having dinner there. It was cold and showering outside but nice and warm inside.


We ordered cocktails to start. The vodka gimlets were perfect. We ordered salads and calamari with zucchini to start. Sujata and I split an Insalata Carciofi e Frisee and Maurice had the Insalata Tricolore. While we enjoyed our appetizers, Joyce started singing her catchy tunes from her latest CD, My Brazilian Heart. Sway, Mas Que Nada, Waters of March to name a few made some of us want to get up and dance.


Our entrées arrived. I had the Pappardelle di Cinghiale and Sujata had the Pasta Arrabiatta. Gary had the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. All three pasta's were mediocre at best. Even Gary mentioned that he has been there before and the pasta's were much better. Gunter just had the soup. Maurice was the only happy camper. He had the Brasato, braised beef short ribs. He had no complaints.


Dessert was Tiramisu (Sandi's favorite), and Tarte Tatin. The desserts were much better than their pasta. The dinner wasn't bad, it just wasn't that good. However, the entertainment made everything worth it. Even on this cold wet night.


Cheers to Joyce Partise and Bill Brendle! Check out her website at www.joycepartise.com

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Second trip to purebread

I can only wish I had a third, fourth, fifth trip to purebread while we were in Vancouver. Here is my previous blog on this wonderful place we spotted by accident.
http://solittlethyme.blogspot.com/2017/03/purebread.html


We had planned to go back the following day, rain or shine. This time we tried the Crème Brȗlée Bun, and we had to have the Roasted Apple Brown Sugar Pecan Cream Puff Tart again. I bought a Chocolate Brownie with a Lemon filling to take home. Everything looked so good that I was tempted to buy a whole Apple Pie. Salted Caramel Brioche Slice and a Sticky Bun to name a few. Even Mertz's decaffeinated coffee looked inviting.


We were both amazed on how nothing was overly sweet. Before the end of the day, I sampled the brownie I bought. It was unlike any brownie I've had. A bit crunchy outside but soft and chewy inside with the lemon filling which took it to another level.


Mertz noticed the sign on the counter. They will be closed on 2 dates filming for the Food Network. If I lived in Vancouver you can be sure I would stack up a day before filming so as not to miss out. I can only hope and pray they open a branch in Los Angeles; better yet in Torrance, California since we have no good bakery since L'Amande Bakery closed.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Les Faux Bourgeois

Our meal last night at Le Crocodile was wonderful so we had apprehensions on what this restaurant might have to offer. It was written up so we could only hope it would live up to it's reputation. We took the skytrain and had a fairly long walk to get there. That was alright since we planned on burning some calories before we indulge.

The restaurant was packed which we thought was a good sign. We were seated in the back across from the bar. Our server was very friendly as he explained the specials. They had mussels on the menu but I was afraid it wouldn't be as good as the restaurant Meet in Paris back home. After some discussion, Mertz and I decided to order the Salade de Chevre Chaud; warm goat cheese crostini, walnuts, greens, beets and sherry vinaigrette. For our entrees, we ordered Le Steak Frites with a choice of red wine shallot jus, herb butter or peppercorn sauce.


Bread and butter came along and left as we were both hungry from our brisk walk.
I noticed that the bread was tasteless and the butter was not nearly as good as the one we had at Le Crocodile. Oh well, everything can't be perfect.  The salad arrived and it did look good. It was delicious. The cheese on the crostini tasted more like Brie than goat cheese but was still good. We both liked the dressing which went well with all the ingredients.


Our entrees were placed on our table and as our server left, Mertz and I stared at each other. Where's the frites? We were looking at a steak with potato gratin. Mertz was able to call our server before he got too far. She explained that we wanted the Hanger Steak. He insisted that we ordered the Filet so Mertz explained in a nice way that we wanted the Steak Frites, hanger steak and he immediately snapped and said: " I know what hanger steak is". He further told us he would change it but it would take about 20 minutes or so. He obviously hoped for us to change our mind and just settle for them. So we waited, it didn't take long when we got the right entree.  The steak was very tender though it did not have enough sauce. There was an abundance of the frites which were good. Though the steak was tender and cooked to our liking, we both thought it was mediocre at best. Maybe we were just spoiled from the experience we had at Le Crocodile.


We did order the Poached Pear Galette with Creme Anglaise for dessert.  It looked like an apple tart.  The crust was good but the pears were not quite ripe so there was not even a hint of sweetness.


It's a pity we didn't dine at this restaurant the night before last so that our last night in Vancouver would have been truly magical.