Sunday, August 30, 2009

A.O.C. Tuscany Flights and Bites on Monday Nights

It's that time of the week again! Monday is just a few days away and this week we are flying to Tuscany. We will be featuring two flights of Tuscan wines paired with an assortment of complimentary small plates.

monday, august 31, 2009: tuscany

flight 1...chianti

2007 poderi del paradiso, chianti colli senesi
2005 podere il palazzino, la pieve, chianti classico
2006 dalla pancia, chianti

flight gerla

2006 la gerla, rosso di montalcino
2004 la gerla, brunello di montalcino

*two cheeses
*pancetta wrapped market fish with yellow tomato sauce and aioli
*marinated eggplant and roasted pepper antipasto with prosciutto

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Los Angeles Grand Central Market

Being a foodie in LA, you would wonder why I haven't been to the Grand Central Market. I have no excuse. But I was in downtown to get my knives sharpened at Ross Cutlery and the market is located directly across the street, so here was my chance. I had heard of a place specializing in pupusas, so I thought that would be my go to spot.

The market has mostly Mexican food stalls, but there are also Chinese, Japanese and a few other types of foods available. With many of the visitors being Hispanic, the Mexican food had got to be good. After wandering around the market staring at all of the customers enjoying their food, I decided this would be a multi-course tasting trip. I ordered a spinach and cheese pupusa from Saritas Pupuseria. Pupusas are made of masa and filled with cheese, other ingredients may include beans, chicharrĂ³n or vegetables. All the pupusas are made to order and may take a bit of time. I sat at the counter of the food stall when I got my order, they offer a side of pickled cabbage. The pupusa was not bad, but definitely lacked flavor. The hot sauce added some flavor, but the cheese and masa were very subtle. Spinach may not have been the greatest accompaniment, should have gone with the chicharrĂ³n.

Before deciding on the pupusa, I saw quite a few foods stalls serving traditional Mexican fast food, Gorditas, Tortas, Tacos, Stews and Ceviche. I stood in front of one particular stall called Tacos, Tumbras and Tomas. The first thing that caught my eye, was the large crowd, the second thing were the huge tortas they were making. I love tortas and they made a version I had never had before, torta milanesa. The tortas have everything, avocados, beans, lettuce, tomatos, a white sauce and the milanesa, all of that on a nice fresh roll. I ended up ordering the carne asada and could only eat half. It is definitely the food stall I plan on visiting next time.

All in all the Grand Central Market is a place all Angelenos should visit at least once, it's part of the LA culture. The prices are great and the food is delicious.

More Photos

President Thai

My mom recommended that we visit this Thai restaurant in Pasadena. I had not heard of it before, but my mom has suggested many terrific restaurants. The restaurant is located on Rosemead Blvd and the building is inspired by traditional Thai architecture. Not only is the building beautiful, the interior was more impressive. But beautiful decor does not good food make. Some of the best Thai restaurants in Los Angeles have a very modest decor, so I was skeptical.

It was lunch time, so they had a large assortment of lunch combo plates and your standard lunch specials. We decided to order ala carte since this was our first visit. We ordered the Pad Kee Mao, Larb, Yum Pla Muk, Pla Filet Lard Prik, Thai Fried Rice and Shrimp and Squid Kra Pow. Besides recommending good places to eat, my mom also loves to order way too much food. The Yum Pla Muk, which is a spicy squid salad, was delicious. The squid was cooked perfectly. Out of the six dishes we ordered, only two were "Thai Spicy", the squid salad was one of them. My family really likes spicy food, so none of the dishes really met the challenge.

Next up was the Pad Kee Mao, Larb and Pla Filet Lard Prik. The Pad Kee Mao and Chicken Larb are two of my favorite Thai dishes. Both of them were good, not great. The flavors were good, but lacked a punch, adding the traditional Thai condiments helped. The Pla Filet Lard Prik was a deep fried fish filet with a overly sweet Thai chili sauce. The fish was very crisy, but the sauce was too heavy and sweet. The final two came, Thai fried rice and the Shrimp and Squid Kra Pow. Both of these dishes were also good, not great, the show stopper was the spicy squid salad.

With so many Thai restaurants in Los Angeles, President Thai sits in the middle of the pack.

More Photos

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Hummus Bar and Grill

The Hummus Bar and Grill is located in Tarzana. I was told about this place over a year ago and finally had a chance to try it. We went on a Friday evening and did not need to wait very long for a table.

Immediately some side dishes and freshly baked laffa bread are served. I don't remember what all of the sides were, but one of them was a mixed salad and there was also a tomato based pepper dip. The fresh bread was delicious. They have a sampler salad selection, it is 10-12 small dishes of a variety of salads. This is a good way to go if you like a lot of different flavors. My favorites were the Cherry Tomato salad, chicken liver salad, two eggplant salads and jalapeno salad. Using the term salad to describe these might not be appropriate, some are more like dips. There are free refills for each and it costs about $6 per person.

We made a mistake and didn't order the namesake hummus, but we'll have to try that next time. I had a hard time deciding what to order for my entree. The menu isn't very big, but I wanted to try something different. We ended getting, the grilled chicken breast and splitting a lamb skewer and filet skewer. Our sides were rice, steamed veggies and fries. The chicken had good flavor and was a decent portion, the sides were not impressive. Surprisingly enough the chicken would be the most flavorful entree. The lamb and beef skewers were good, but not great. They were both a bit overcooked, but it's pretty difficult to properly cook small cubes of meat medium rare.

All in all the Hummus Bar and Grill is good food. if you haven't tried it I suggest you schedule a visit. I will be back to try some other dishes, including the hummus!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Laurel Tavern

The Laurel Tavern is another addition to the LA gastropub scene. It is located on Ventura Blvd, just past Laurel Cyn Blvd. The place was designed by the same designer who worked on The York in Highland Park, they look very similar. This was my second visit and I was not as impressed this time around. There's no doubt the selection of beer and wine is worth a visit, but the menu still needs a bit of work.

On my first visit, we sampled the Burrata and Heirloom Tomato salad and the Chorizo Fondue. Both items were simple, but executed very nicely. On my second visit I thought I would go for some more unique fair. I ordered the Grilled Artichoke which came with a tangy dipping sauce. For my entree, I ordered the Roasted Marrowbones, served with parsley salt and toast, I also ordered a side of fries. The artichoke was a bit scorched, but not bad. The dipping sauce, was pretty bland and could have used a bit more seasoning. I should have been happy with the artichoke, because my entree was difficult to eat. I've had great roasted marrowbones, CommeCa was the latest. Laurel Tavern's Roasted Marrowbones had a very old taste, very minerally. They were also undercooked, so the marrow was not as smooth as it should be. If that wasn't bad enough, the parsley served with the salt was not very fresh. The fries which are supposed to be fried in pork fat, were not very memorable either.

So all in all, stick with the basics at the Laurel Tavern. The beverages and the atmosphere are worth checking out. And when ordering food, stay away from any non-standard items.

More Photos

CommeCa - Julia's Block Party

In celebration of Julia Child's birthday and the release of the new movie Julie and Julia. CommeCa is throwing a block party this Sunday, Aug 9th. Here's the menu:

Here's more information

Right across the street, Lucques is having their Annual BBQ Round up, more info