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Petrossian (Los Angeles, CA) – Waking Up to Caviar and Truffles

February 15, 2010

After that first meal at Petrossian, I had to go back…So I did. Immediately.

A little over one week after my dineLA-cum-7 course tasting menu, I was already back in the restaurant, sitting by the same window, scanning the same menu and wondering what to order for my second time around.

The circumstances for this meal were different than the last: I was here for a light brunch with a friend and wanted to try the one or two dishes I missed the last time around. Overwhelmed by the menu, I had the opportunity of asking Ben for his opinion:

“What do you think about the caviar pizza?”
“It’s good!”
“I was thinking about the croque madame too.”
“That’d be great for brunch.”
“Well…what about the foie gras salad? Linden (The Gastronomnom) says it’s even better than your Napoleon tartare.”
“Oh, did he? You should get it then.”

Wow. That was helpful.

My dining companion was just as useless, but agreed to split whatever dishes I decided to order. So, after much inner debate, I finally settled on the foie gras salad and the caviar pizza, with an order of the truffle mac and cheese instead of the croque madame. (There’s no way I could turn down the mac and cheese!)

Once again, Ben surprised us with an order of the blinis to start. They were still as delicious as I remembered (a memory of which was still fresh in my mind at that point).

The foie salad was brought out next – a slice of a foie gras terrine placed atop a bed of haricot vert and walnuts.

(“You should get it”, he says. And so I did.)

The fresh green beans were a welcome start to my sunny Sunday morning, and I loved the crunch of the walnuts hidden in the pile. The rich foie terrine smeared over toast points was that day’s butter and toast.

After touting Petrossian’s mac and cheese throughout my conversation, it finally arrived – picture perfect as always. Again, each bite was heaven, with the bacon flavor a bit stronger this time around. Although I adore this dish, I’ve decided that it’s best enjoyed at dinner; it’s just too hearty for a morning brunch.

The caviar pizza, on the other hand, was the ideal dish for such an occasion.

The combination of ingredients is surprising. The menu may have described it as a pizza with creme fraiche, red onions, chives, capers and caviar, however, it fails to include the finely minced hard-boiled eggs (which are key, as I soon discovered). The eggs add smoothness, the onions add sweetness and, of course, the caviar and capers add that final punch of salt.

I ended my meal with the strawberry panna cotta and the pistachio creme brulee. I favored the panna cotta before, I favored it again.

Now that I’ve eaten all the favorites at Petrossian, you may think I’d be satisfied for a while. Not quite – my friend can attest that, during our converastion, I was frequently distracted by the dishes ordered by the patrons outside (you know, the more standard brunch fare like the hand sliced smoked salmon, the 321 salad or my foregone croque madame). I may have been enviously eying them then, but I’ll try them myself soon enough.

Petrossian Paris Boutique & Cafe
321 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 271-6300
Website: http://www.petrossian.com/
Twitter: @petrossianweho

Petrossian Boutique & Cafe on Urbanspoon

LA Street Food Fest 2010 – Part II: Icing on the Cake

February 13, 2010

Read Part I of my adventures at the LA Street Food Fest here.

(Now for a more objective view of the 2010 LA Street Food Fest.)

Like I said in my prior post, I already considered the day a success after getting my LFC and figured everything else would be icing on the cake. In this case, the icing was deliciously sweet because I had a complete and utter BLAST at this event!

The best way to get around food festivals such as this one is to use the tactic my friends like to call “divide and conquer”: Get a group of people, everyone take a different truck, order 2-3x more than you normally would, then meet back at a specific location and divvy up the goods. Yes, you’ll still get stuck in a line but it’s only one 2-hour line rather than four 2-hour lines and you get at least twice the amount of food.

Based on our “divide and conquer” technique, I was able to taste the following trucks and try their respective goodies:
– Frysmith: kimchi fries, rajas fries, foie gras fries, chili cheese fries
– Dogzilla: karai furikake dog, yakisoba dog, dogzilla dog
– Qzilla: smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, Texas toast, smack and cheese
– Mama Koh’s Chicken: chicken wings
– Fishlips: tuna, eel, shrimp, yellowtail
– Buttermilk: red velvet chocolate chip pancake bites.
– Coolhaus: chocolate chip cookie, brown butter candied bacon ice cream
– Del’s Lemonade: frozen lemonade

As you can see, “divide and conquer” works pretty well (to say the least).

Although I had a great time and filled myself up on truck food, I knew pretty early on (i.e. immediately after I got my order of LFC and watched the line grow exponentially in the next 5 minutes) that there was going to be some kind of backlash on “teh internetz” about this event. With the amount of people pouring through the gate, the lines were bound to be long and most people, like me, hate waiting in lines. I also knew that quite a number of people would probably be unaccustomed to food festivals and expect to stroll in at 3PM and get food immediately (which is obviously NOT the case).

Huge crowds + long lines = disgruntled people who will complain.

I knew it was going to get even uglier when I caught news that they were closing down the general admission line due to overcapacity inside. (As someone who was on the inside, I can vouch – it was crowded already.) The next news to hit was that there were delays in the trucks because of health inspections. Both would affect the public’s view of the event and, again, would cause people to complain. (I can already see negativity bubbling in the comments on other people’s blogs and on Yelp.)

Here’s the way I see it:

Yes, it sucks that people had to wait outside for hours and still weren’t allowed in.
Yes, it sucks that people had to wait inside for hours and didn’t get very much food.
I’m not going to lie – it totally sucks.

But think about it from another perspective: This is the first food festival in LA of this size. Name another festival that comes close to reaching the number of people in attendance at the Food Fest today – What, the Tofu festival? BBQ festival? KBBQ festival? I would argue that the LA Street Food Fest is a first for this city. Considering this is its first year, that the turnout was 50-100% larger than anticipated, and given the hiccups caused by the fire marshal and the health inspector and whomever else, I would say the LA Street Food Fest did pretty damn well for itself.

Nothing works perfectly the first time around; it’s only with time and hard lessons that things get better. And I honestly believe that the next time around (and there will be another time around), the event will be bigger and better. I mean, if, in its first year, the LA Street Food Fest has already converted me into a food festival supporter (which is a big deal in and of itself), who knows what else it is capable of?

LA Street Food Fest 2010 – Part I: Operation LFC

February 13, 2010

I haven’t been to very many food festivals in my lifetime…Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve only been to one other. But I learned one VERY important lesson from the Korean BBQ Festival of August 2009:

If you show up late, you WILL wait in line.

Now, if you know anything about me, you’ll know – I’m an impatient girl. I absolutely abhor waiting in lines. And since food festivals equal lines and food trucks equal lines, I had pretty much decided I wasn’t going to go to the 2010 LA Street Food Festival.

…That was, until I heard about Chef Ludo and his LFC (i.e. Ludo Fried Chicken) truck. Once news broke about Ludo, I started to plan – I was going to show up at the crack of dawn (more like 45 minutes before the gates opened) and I was going to go to Ludo’s truck. If I got myself an order of LFC, I would consider the day a success and leave with no remorse. Everything else would be icing on the cake.

So, this morning, I left the house at 10AM with my $10 presale fan ticket in hand and drove the 15 minutes to DTLA. (Note: Presale is a must, especially when you don’t know how general admission is going to look. In this case, it was an extra $5 well spent.) I paid my $5 for parking (the lot was pretty empty at that time), found the side entrance (for fan ticket holders only) and waited. And waited. And waited. But once those gates opened and they checked my name off the list, I RAN. I knew that, with every step, was five people I would beat in line. Lucky for me, Krissy, Ludo’s wife, had posted a picture of Ludo’s beautiful truck on Twitter that morning. I knew EXACTLY what I was looking for: a bright red truck with the coq on it.

(The holy grail.)

I think I was one of the first dozen people in line. No real wait, the chicken was already fried and the trade-off of money for chicken was almost instantaneous.

(Operation LFC: A SUCCESS!)

I found a seat at a nearby table, watching the line quadruple before my eyes. I bit into the chicken and the aromatic flavor of the rosemary filled my mouth. Each piece of chicken was succulent and moist and absolutely perfect. I dunked the chicken, the breading, anything I could get my hands on into the tangy piquillos sauce.

An hour in and the day was already a success. It could only get better…

Read Part II of my adventures at the LA Street Food Fest here.

TED2010 with Jamie Oliver – It’s About Food.

February 12, 2010

“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

It’s amazing watching Jamie Oliver give this speech at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) 2010. I remember being drawn to the man years ago when he was just a TV chef. To see him now, to hear his passion towards education about food and diet…

This video moved me.

Food is something that everyone battles and the winners are based on cost and convenience. Eating should be a conscious choice. I’m lucky in that I was taught about healthy eating; when I don’t eat the best things, at least I recognize I’m making a poor choice. I know some may not be so lucky.

Spread the word. Let’s educate people about food.

Club 33 (Anaheim, CA) – The Happiest Meal On Earth

February 8, 2010

Hidden in a small alley, past the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Blue Bayou, is a secret little door. It’s easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for; its only visible signage is a small placard on the right with the numbers “33”. Find the hidden panel to buzz yourself in and the door will soon swing open from the inside and lead you to…

Club 33.

(What wonders await behind this door?)

Club 33 is a private club, hidden in the heart of New Orleans Square in Disneyland. Although finding the club is hard, getting into the club is an even more difficult feat – With a wait-list estimated at 14 years and annual membership fees starting at $10K/year, most may never have an opportunity to enter Club 33 unless invited as a guest of a pre-existing member.

———-

This is one of the reasons why I love working for Corporate America.

I’ve had the privilege of dining at Club 33 not once, but twice – my first time being two years ago, when we were treated to a three course dinner for an audit well done and the second time more recently, when I enjoyed a lunch buffet on a lazy Wednesday. Club 33 days are always days of celebration for us. Since a meal in the club also includes a complimentary park-hopper pass for the day, Club 33 means no work and all play, with my coworkers and I running all over Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park like we were 10 again.

Not only does a trip to Club 33 mean nostalgic bliss (…strolling down Main Street…screaming on Space Mountain…spinning in a teacup…), it also means good food. Forget your typical theme park meals of burgers and fries; Club 33 is fine dining, Walt Disney style.

Lunch began with a trip to the cold buffet line, where we loaded up on sliced meats, grilled veggies and cheese and fruit platters. We dug shrimp cocktail, crab claws and lobster tails out of the ice and sipped on lentil and bacon soup. Some of us even ordered a fruity drink or two. (You know, the ones with pineapples and strawberries and god knows what else fanning the rim of the glass? Yeah, those kind of fruity drinks.)

And that was just the beginning.

After the buffet came our entrees. As explained to us by our server, some of the items on the menu have been favorites since the club opened in 1967. We were recommended the pan seared chateaubriand and the Colorado lamb chops; too lazy to choose, my manager and I ordered one each and shared a bite with the other. The lamb was just a touch overcooked, but I loved the apple coffee polenta underneath. The chateaubriand, on the other hand, was juicy and tender through and through.

We started the meal with a buffet, we ended the meal with a the buffet…a dessert buffet that is. With over a dozen sugary goods, my eyes grew bigger than my stomach and I loaded my little dessert plate full of sweets. The meyer lemon cream puff was my favorite, beating out the strawberry panna cotta, chocolate mousse, blackberry mousse and coconut macaroons.

———-

So if you’re ever wandering through Disneyland and stumble upon that little sign and that unassuming blue door, you know now what hides behind it. Maybe, one day, you’ll also get the opportunity to peek inside too. I mean, you know they say…

“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.”

Club 33
33 Royal Street (in Disneyland)
Anaheim, CA 92802

Club 33 on Urbanspoon