Friday, August 31, 2012

Lovely Livello

Livello located at the L'Ermitage Hotel; 9291 Burton Way in Los Angeles is truly a delight!  This was my second time around.  A friend and I first discovered this restaurant through one of those specials I happened to snatch at the internet.

Seven of us went there for dinner the other night. As soon as you enter the the very intimate, elegant dining room, you know you are in for a wonderful experience. See my previous blog:

I was so happy to see Joseph, who waited on us before.  He is the old fashioned server (he's not old) who truly seeks to please his customers.  We started with cocktails; dirty martinis again then graduated to nice bottle of Pinot.  Some appetizers were shared, melon wrapped in goat cheese, mint and nuts, snow crab tempura, oysters with ponzu gelee, sambai, green onion and garlic chip. The oysters looked wonderful and since there were just 4 in a serving and Elliot did not want to part with any of his, I didn't get to try them. Someone ordered the sea urchin and fluke crudo in organic olive oil and Ilocano sea salt. That was smooth as butter.

I ordered the bolognese of beef short ribs on pappardelle with pecorino. It was absolutely delicious. I told Otto, my husband that he would definitely enjoy the seared wagyu flat iron on broccoli, onion puree and ponzu.  He was very pleased with it. Aimee ordered the duck confit chili mint with frisee, mache, citrus and arare crackers. I didn't get to try that either. I think I got too excited taking pictures that I forgot to beg from everyone, a taste of their entree. I know, not only does Raymond not like to share, he is usually not interested in trying anyone's entree, especially if I do the offering!

Someone had the grilled octopus with cauliflower; Aimee also had the oxtail tortelloni with heirloom tomato, garlic, basil, parsley and chives. Deepa, the vegetarian had the artichoke hearts and shared some of the parmesan truffle fries and asparagus with light garlic soy sauce. The last picture is the mysterious dish that I could not identify. I am sure it was delicious though I didn't get to try it.  My guess is it was Elliot's dish. He's the one who never wants to share.....can't invite him again!


For dessert, Joseph suggested two plates of a variety of sweets.  The first one had 3 kinds of sorbet, chocolate and lime panna cota.  The other one had cheesecake, pistachio souffle and mochi. They were all a nice finale; like a happy ending to a great book.

At the end of our fantastic meal, I asked Joseph if the chef was still around. Before I knew it, Chef Benjamin Dayag came to greet us all as we informed him how much we enjoyed everything. 

So to Chef Dayag, I say on behalf of the the family.....Maraming Salamat!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wonderful Ink

I was first introduced to his restaurant on my birthday last April when my brother and cousin took me there; located at 8360 Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles.

Some relatives were visiting for a few days and wanted me to make reservations for 3 nights. The first evening was Osteria Mozza, and the second evening was Ink. The third was Livello which I will blog about later.

There were 8 of us and they gave us their private room which was quite cozy and intimate.  We first had some cocktails...our server, Justin, was the best!  I knew what I wanted to order but didn't know how much to order for 8 people as these were little plates. They left the ordering to me and  I wanted them to taste some of the outrageous dishes Michael Voltaggio is know for.  I gave Justin my list and he took charge (in a good way). 

We ordered snap peas, with coffee and coconut ice. The last time I was there, they had carrots instead of the snap peas.  This was not only fantastic but so much fun to eat. The coconut ice looked like rice krispies covered with snow. There was ham with manchego biscuit and almond honey butter which was delicious. Another dish was the brussels sprouts with pig ears. I blogged about a few of these dishes previously:

The beef tartare, served with hearts of palm and sea bean chimichurri and horseradish was very good.  Gnocchi with egg, scallops, with a beef mushroom sauce and fried onions on top was like no other gnocchi you've ever had! Soft shell crab with tarragon mayo, capers and potato was excellent. The halibut with sweet potato fries was also good. Octopus, ink, shells, young fennel was enjoyed by all. The short ribs with chicharron, carrots, thinly sliced tendon (don't make faces as you haven't tried it) with horseradish tofu was heavenly; so was the pork belly with charcoal oil made from leek ash served with a side of sweet corn puree.

My nephew's wife, Deepa is a vegetarian so the poor deprived girl could not share our excitement but she did order something that Justin suggested. The charcoal potato. This looked like charcoal briquettes! They were boiled potatoes then smoked and grilled in squid ink and salt and served with a garlic aioli. It came with a little bottle of black vinegar you could spray on the briquettes. I wanted to try it but Deepa never offered; I guess she needed all the briquettes she could get.

For dessert, Justin recommended the chocolate and nutella sponge, rice ice sorbet, macarons and yuzo; and the Greek yogurt with strawberry, rhubarb and Japanese peaches. We also ordered the apple with caramel, walnut, and burnt wood ice cream which I have had before and was delicious as ever.

I apologize for being repetitious in describing the dining experience at Ink but it can only be described as: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Osteria Mozza

This is one of my favorite restaurants in L.A.  Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali & Joseph Bastianich are the guilty perpetrators of this wonderful establishment.

We were 8 in our party.  We shared a few appetizers like mussels with wine, tomatoes and a rich broth.  We also had my favorite appetizer which was the burrata w/the bacon, crostini with burrata and black olives and something like a bread stick but had the consistency of barquillos (so a bit sweet) with prosciutto wrapped around one end of it.

A variety of entrees were ordered. One had a steak which was hidden underneath what looked like a spinach salad, one had a whole fish which looked like it just emerged from hell. It was black but boy was it delicious. This fish was first steamed then grilled. The cold squid ink pasta with crab was absolutely delicious. Another person ordered the trout which I didn't get to try. I had the cacio e pepe which was loaded with pepper. It was good but I must say, the one I make is better especially since I serve it on a parmesan bowl.

For dessert, we shared some donuts with mascarpone served with vanilla ice cream sitting on a pool of lemon curd. That was very good. I ordered a trio of  mint ice cream sandwich, and 2 other interesting desserts which I do not recall since I was a bit drunk. We got to the restaurant early and a bunch of us had a dirty martini which was quite strong.  Two bottles of wine were ordered and only 7 of us the person beside me kept pouring his wine in my glass.   The reason I know I was not myself was I didn't try everyone's dish which is abnormal for me!

I missed ordering my favorite pasta with either boar or duck meat sauce which is always outstanding.  There's always a next time...........

Monday, August 27, 2012

Brunch at Ocean & Vine

We are currently staying at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica for a reunion with relatives we haven't seen in a year.  Yesterday, three of us had brunch at their restaurant, Ocean and Vine. 

Alma and I ordered the burger and Aimee had the scallop salad.  The burgers were humongous.  It came with the whole works, lettuce, tomato, cheese, etc. I managed to squish it so I could have a big bite.  Somehow, Alma's burger looked a lot taller. That was because she didn't forget to put in the lettuce.  The burgers looked better than it tasted. It was not bad but not great either; especially if you've had the burgers at Father's Office in Culver City or Umami burgers.  They came with french fries and chewy popcorn.  Aimee liked her scallop salad; that's probably what I should have ordered. 

For dessert, Alma ordered the peach creme brulee to share.  It looked good though it didn't look like much. It was served on a bowl but the creme brulee was shallow. If this was a wading pool, you wouldn't have enough water to wet your feet! Taste-wise, it reminded me of Gerber's baby food. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.  The fruit baby food is actually good.  A bit on the bland side but good.  This had chunks of peaches in it.

I must mention that they had the regular buffet brunch which we declined since we were not planning to eat much  as we had dinner reservations at Osteria Mozza that evening. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bertolli Italian Sausage & Rigatoni

This is another good discovery.  This frozen bag of Bertolli Italian Sausage & Rigatoni
with red peppers in a spicy tomato sauce serves two.  Don't get alarmed about the "spicy" because it isn't spicy.  If you like spicy, you might want to add more spice.

This is the easiest dinner on earth.  You cut the bag, empty the contents in a pan, cover and cook. I made 2 bags for the 3 of us and I had left over serving for one. It's funny to see the contents all frozen; it does not look appetizing. But then, as it cooks, the frozen tomato square blocks melts and begins to look promising.

We were all happy with the finished product. It was tasty; served with a green salad, it became a nice meal. Later that evening, my son asked me how much serving he got and I asked why?  He wanted to know how much fat he consumed. I told him I didn't know and he gave me that look and questioned me about fat content on what I eat.

My response was: " You can always buy your own food and eat elsewhere".

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Milk Ice Cream Parlor

My niece, Aimee told me all about this ice cream parlor on 7290 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles. Last night after another dinner at Meet in Paris which was delicious as ever, we decided to have our dessert at MILK.

We got there and my eyes popped out not knowing where to look first.  Ice cream flavors of vast variety plus ice cream sandwiches made with macarons!  Not to be confused with macaroons which are coconut cookies.  Macarons are French cookies that are meringue- like, very light and and sometimes a bit chewy.

I was all set to order the salted caramel macaron which Aimee talked about.  They did not have it!  I asked them why and the answer was that they had it the day before. Apparently, they rotate the flavors.  He also mentioned  that the salted caramel was very popular. I did not major in business, but don't you think if the demand is there, you should have it available at all times?  Oh well..... I settled for the toffee coffee macaron since I love coffee ice cream.
It was veryyyy good.  Cindy and Sandi both ordered the banana dulce de leche which was also delicious.  They were big and hard to eat but I managed.  My 2 friends had to use their knives and forks since they didn't want to eat it like a hamburger which was the fun and proper way.....according to me. 

Milk also serves sandwiches, cupcakes, cookies, and salads. Before I left, I bought 4 oatmeal cranberry cookies.  If you like healthy tasteless cookies, this is for you. I didn't like them. It was like eating unseasoned vegetables.

One thing for sure...they claim to be an Ice Cream Parlor and they are indeed a very good ice cream parlor.  FYI,  we went to a another ice cream store 2 weeks ago called Coolhaus in Culver City; do not bother, it was not even worth my time to write about it.  Go to MILK instead.