February 7, 2010
(Picture taken by Austin of Living to Eat.)
Yes, it’s true – I *heart* Chef Ben Bailly. Not quite love – it’s going to take another serving or two of his famous black truffle mac and cheese for me to get to that level – but definitely *heart*. I fall into *heart* rather quickly; I just can’t help myself.
Take Petrossian for example – I’ve been *heart*ing it for a while now, ever since the words “truffle mac and cheese” fell upon my ears. Thus, when this current Winter 2010 DineLA Restaurant Week came rolling around, I knew – If I only had one restaurant to go to this season, it would be Petrossian.
After hearing so much about it, it was surprisingly to walk into Petrossian for the first time. It was this little unassuming spot on the corner of Robertson and Rosewood, without a single valet umbrella in sight. (I got lucky and found myself a free meter on the street.) Their dining room is clean and simplistic – a combination of mirror and glass and black and white. While I first made myself comfortable there, I soon overhead the bustle of the kitchen behind the wall and relocated myself to the boutique where I could catch a glimpse of the kitchen. You can’t tell when peeking in from the outside but Petrossian’s kitchen is very small; it’s amazing Chef Ben can produce such wondrous dishes from a single stove. (Yes, a single stove. Four burners – That’s it!)
Now, onto the food…Oh, THE FOOD.
Although I went for DineLA, their regular menu was so tempting I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with only three dishes. Thus, my three course DineLA prix fixe of shrimp papillotte, pork belly and pistachio creme brulee soon became a five course meal, with the addition of the napoleon tartare and truffle mac and cheese both ordered a la carte. Little would I know, this five course would later turn into a seven course, with the blinis and mushroom cappuccino delivered compliments of the chef. By the end of the meal, I was holding my stomach in a mix of pain and pure bliss. (So much food! Need more space!)
The night began with the trio of blinis topped with trout roe, salmon roe and caviar. I usually have roe prepared Japanese style over rice, so tasting a more traditional preparation was a nice change of pace. I particularly enjoyed the salty caviar against the creme fraiche, although the salmon and trout roes were also fantastic.
The next course was the first of the DineLA three – the shrimp “papillotte” with passion fruit and chili ginger sauce. Traditionally, to be cooked “en papillotte” means a protein (typically fish) is wrapped in parchment paper and cooked to lock in the moisture. The shrimp were not quite cooked en papillotte; instead of wrapped in parchment paper, they were wrapped in thin wonton skins and fried. When tasted with the tangy passion fruit ginger sauce, one could see a slight Asian influence in the dish.
Just as the two light starters perked my appetite, then came THE DISH: Chef Ben’s famous truffle mac and cheese.
When I had mentioned I was going to Petrossian, one dish was shouted from the heavens with foodies rallying like it was the next coming – the truffle mac and cheese. Chewy orrechiette pasta, smothered in cream, black truffles and bacon…The aroma alone made my mouth water. While the description may sound heavy, it was perfectly balanced and not at all overwhelming. The flavor caused my eyes to roll into the back of my head in delight with every bite. Absolutely amazing.
If there was a dish that could have followed up the truffle mac and cheese without disappointment, it would be the napoleon tartare. Raw steak with a layer of caviar streaked through the center – there is nothing more luxurious than that. Seasoned by Chef Ben himself, I could have eaten the whole thing with a fork – no crostinis necessary. (They have a version of the Napoleon tartare without caviar but seriously people – why would you NOT add caviar?!)
After the tartare came the mushroom cappuccino. It was a complex soup that tasted like a field of mushrooms – deep and earthy, each sip felt like it was warming my soul. The chestnuts hidden at the bottom of the cup added some texture and a bit of sweetness to that final sip.
Our last savory dish of the night was the DineLA pork belly, a glorious slab larger than the palm of my hand. Its delicious fat glistened in the candlelight, each bite melted in my mouth. Petrossian’s pork belly could arguably be the best piece of pork belly I’ve had in my life.
Finally, I arrived at dessert. By this time, I had already reached foodie delirium and only allowed myself a couple tastes of each dessert. Flavor-wise, the pistachio creme brulee was the most unique, with the roasted pistachios giving off almost a green tea/matcha taste. (Chef Ben seemed surprised by this comment – there were only pistachios in the brulee, no tricks!) I personally favored the panna cotta with strawberry jam; it was light ending to a large meal and my gorged self really couldn’t handle anything more than that.
So now you see why I say I *heart* both Chef Ben Bailly and Petrossian; the thought of this meal still causes my heart to beat faster. Now to go again to see if this is just *heart* or love… (If this is how I’m kicking off 2010, the rest of the year has some damn high expectations to live up to!)
February 3, 2010
Are you or one of your friends a member of Blackboard Eats?
Do you have a 30% off discount code for Mozza2Go?
Do you realize that code expires on Feb. 6th?
Thus, SIDEWALK PARTY! (We can’t eat in Mozza – thus the 2Go part – but we can party it up outside with our pizzas!)
Join us on Saturday, Feb. 6th outside Mozza2Go. Sitting around on the sidewalk, chatting with friends, chomping down on some damn good pizza…can you think of anything better?
– PLEASE ORDER BY PHONE BEFORE YOU SHOW UP. That way, you’re not waiting around for an hour for food.
– If you would like to attend but don’t have a code, please comment below – I’ll do my best to find you a code to share.
– Try to carpool. Knowing that area, parking will be a pain.
– It’s scheduled to rain on Saturday – Remember to bring an umbrella! (I’ll be there, rain or shine!)
See you all there!
(Btw, if you have a Blackboard Eats code you’re not using and would like to donate it to our party, please comment!)
UPDATE: So I received a message from someone from Blackboard Eats encouraging us to go to Mozza2Go but to eat elsewhere out of respect for Mozza’s neighbors (which I understand). Thus, does anyone have any suggestions on where to take this delicious food to eat?
January 30, 2010
When I went to NYC in December, I had the opportunity of going to a wondrous place called “Max Brenner”. Walking through the doors was like walking through a curtain of chocolate – you were immediately greeted with the smell of it and its warm embrace. I remember loving Max Brenner’s carefree, sugar-loving establishment and wishing that something like this existed in LA.
Little did I know, there already was.
Stumbling upon Syrup Desserts was like walking into LA’s adult version of Max Brenner. Not quite Candyland, this was the more sophisticated version for those who enjoyed a good french press with their sugary delights. You may not drown in chocolate at Syrup Desserts, but you can definitely appease your sweet tooth here.
Now comes the question: Which one is better? I can’t say for certain, but I do know this: They both make a mean berry waffle.
“It’s so simple. All you have to do is just really love chocolate!”
If Max Brenner were the Willy Wonka of NYC, I would be the girl who got stuck in a tube because I was drinking too much chocolate out of the river. (Yes, the short little rotund one.)
Max Brenner is just a happy-go-lucky kind of place. Open until 2AM, it’s perfect for a midnight snack or, in my case, a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold New York night. They’ve got half a dozen varieties of hot chocolate on their menu, each made with your choice of either dark, milk or white chocolate. I personally recommend the dark Mexican hot chocolate – the spiciness in that cup kicked the cold right out of me!
After hungrily eyeing the neighboring table’s Tutti Frutti waffles for five minutes straight, I figured I should order a plate of my own. The waffles themselves were a bit dry but the mountains of strawberries compensated for it. The berries were ripe and sweet and had just a hint of citrus to punch things up a bit. The vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup were eaten separately – There was no need to load that waffle up any more than it already was, it was great as is.
New York, NY 10003
If parking downtown wasn’t such a pain, you’d find me at Syrup Desserts every weekend, fork full of waffle in one hand, coffee in the other and a lonely laptop sitting in front of me. (Hey, I only have two hands!) Any establishment that serves both LAMill and Intelligencia coffee already gets an “A” in my book. Add some of the best waffles I’ve had in recent memory and you’ve earned yourself that extra plus.
Syrup Desserts serves three types of waffles: buttermilk waffles, Belgian waffles and liege waffles. Again, with the help of Wikipedia, I shall define my food. Liege waffles are:
“a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Invented by the chef of the prince-bishop of Liège in the 18th century as an adaptation of brioche bread dough, it features chunks of pearl sugar, which caramelizes on the outside of the waffle when baked.”
In other words, it’s pure deliciousness.
(Side tangent: My food photo skills are slowly getting better! YAY!)
As mentioned, the waffles are noticeably chewier than your typical Belgian waffle but I personally like the consistency. I was surprised to find blueberries baked inside my waffle; they were a welcome addition and didn’t soggy the waffle at all.
As for the accompanying blackberry jasmine ice cream, I could eat vats of the stuff. Although my dining companion Austin thought they had overseeped the blackberry jasmine tea, I loved the bold blackberry flavor and the heavy tea aftertaste.
I can already tell Syrup Desserts is soon going to be one of my regular late night stops. The last time I was there, I noticed they have a Mexican hot chocolate on their menu too – if it’s as good as Max Brenner’s, I’ll never leave.
611 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
January 23, 2010
20 consecutive working days, 200 billable hours and many, many more unbillable hours later, I am officially DONE with the first sign-off of the 2010 busy season!
For those unfamiliar with the wonderful world of public accounting, here’s a little background:
- Busy season is the bane of an auditor’s existence. We work like hell for the months between January and March (mine typically runs into April, lucky me) and, when I say we work like hell, I mean work equals life. Come in at 9AM, leave at midnight – thus is our busy season life.
- Please do not mention tax season around me, I don’t do tax. We are busy because public companies release their financial statements as of 12/31 (i.e. year-end) and we’re the ones making sure those numbers are correct. The day these financials are released is known as “sign-off” (i.e. the day the firm signs off saying everything’s okay).
- Lastly, and most importantly, because we work 15 hours a day, the firm has to feed us. I mean, we’re working an extra 7 hours a day but we don’t get paid overtime? They better feed us. (Oh, thus is the salaried life.)
…Which brings us to Auditor’s Eats.
I thought it would be funny to take pictures of what I eat at work and see what crosses my desk during the course of a busy season. In better times, we would be ordering in for every meal – lunch, snacks, and dinner – but it’s a recession now and we only get dinners nowadays. Not that I’m complaining – dinner is the most anticipated moment of the day. It’s the time when we can put down our green pens and just relax for a good half-hour before diving headfirst back into our piles of paper.
So here goes the first ever Auditor’s Eats. There will be many more coming soon – trust me, busy season ain’t over yet.
January 10, 2010
I think it’s safe to say: Everyone loves Anthony Bourdain.
I have yet to meet a person who has been indifferent to him, let alone hated him. I, myself, can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with the man – It was way back when (you know, back when The Food Network was actually a legit food network) and I was watching A Cook’s Tour on TV. Bourdain, as usual, was in the middle of some far off land and had just taken a bite of the regional iguana dish. It was at that moment he spoke the words that stole my heart. He said:
“Unbelievably horrible. I just want to die. I mean really bad. I want to dip my head into a bucket of lye, you know, pull my eyes out of their sockets and jump off a cliff.”
(Yes, THAT’s the kind of stuff that makes my heart flutter.)
It was at that moment, I knew – Anthony Bourdain WILL NOT bullshit you. If something is horrific, he WILL tell you. On the same note, if he says something is awesome, you better believe it.
Fast forward to November 2009 – I was in the process of planning my first trip to back to NY since the beginning of the millenium and I conveniently stumble upon Anthony Bourdain’s list of 13 places to eat before you die, 3 of which were located in NYC.
Is this a sign? (Maybe.)
Is the King of My Heart trying to tell me something? (I doubt it.)
Am I going to heed his call? (OF COURSE.)
(Note: If you’re an Anthony Bourdain hater out there, please – stay hidden and don’t comment. I like being young and naive.)
(Okay, NOW comes the part about the food.)
Spots 8 and 9 on Anthony Bourdain’s bucket list are just a block apart, which makes them easy to knock off the list. Katz’s Deli and Russ and Daughters are two NYC institutions that have been around for the last century, give or take a couple years (Katz’s opened in 1888, Russ and Daughters in 1914), and they’re both still serving the same things they were when they first opened.
Russ and Daughters
If the day I went was representative of a normal day at Russ and Daughters, be prepared to WAIT. Even though it was pouring outside, this little place was packed to the brim with people, waiting for their smoked fish and Jewish sides.
While others were stocking up on pickled herring and latkes, I had my eyes on a lox bagel with the works (i.e. onions, tomatoes and capers). You get your choice of lox – I chose the Scottish salmon as it was supposed to be “the perfect union of silky texture, balanced smoked, and total sophistication”. I waited 30 minutes for my little bagel sandwich, then rushed over to Katz’s with my goodies all wrapped up in a bag.
I finally got the chance to chow down later in the day and the lox was just as it was described – the texture was smooth, the flavor had just a hint of smokiness…it was some great lox. I almost wish I had just ordered the lox by itself – while the bagel itself was fine, they had smeared on too much cream cheese (at least, for my taste) and had sliced the onions and tomatoes a little thin.
The crowd in Katz’s was just as big as the one in Russ but, luckily, I didn’t have to wait – my sister from another mother, Jenn, had been waiting in line at Katz’s while I was waiting in line at Russ. (Tag team!) I found her sitting at a table, sandwich already split in two, patiently waiting for me to deliver my part of the deal.
Katz’s pastrami is so moist, it just flakes apart in your mouth. It’s probably the best pastrami I’ve had to date…but that’s not saying very much. I’ve yet to try LA’s pastrami institution (i.e. Langer’s) so I don’t know how the East compares with the West. Plus, at the end of the day, Katz’s pastrami sandwich is a $15 pastrami sandwich.
Is it worth the price? *shrugs* It is good though.